Once again, the Supreme Court has issued rulings triggering national uproar. This time, the court has ruled that universities’ race-conscious admission policies are unconstitutional, that businesses can deny services to LGBTQ+ customers, and that President Joe Biden can’t move forward with his student loan forgiveness plan. And just like the justices’ decision last year to end federal abortion protections and other troubling SCOTUS developments this term, the court’s new decisions are all examples of how dark money reigns supreme.
That’s because one person’s fingerprints are all over these developments: conservative legal activist Leonard Leo, the king of dark money. And based on Biden’s response to some of these new court rulings, it appears the president isn’t going to do anything to stop him.
As President Donald Trump’s judicial adviser, Leo helped build the conservative supermajority on the Supreme Court that killed Roe v. Wade. As The Lever helped expose last year, Leo’s judicial activism was supercharged in 2021, when a conservative surge protector magnate secretly funneled $1.6 billion to his new dark money fund — the largest known political advocacy donation in U.S. history.
Leo’s dark money operation has since been working to influence some of the Supreme Court’s most consequential cases.
That includes the court’s rulings on affirmative action. In 6-3 and 6-2 decisions, the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action policies at both public and private universities. Both cases were brought by Students for Fair Admissions, which purports to be a “membership group of more than 20,000 students, parents, and others who believe that racial classifications and preferences in college admissions are unfair, unnecessary, and unconstitutional.”