As society continues working at piecing together the logic (if there is any) behind the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, new information has come to light, allowing us to make more sense of it — a secret agenda. This agenda, which is overseen by conservative legal activist Leonard Leo, seeks to “reshape the American judicial system, including the Supreme Court,” claims ProPublica.
So, who is Leonard Leo, a man we rarely speak of? He's being referred to as one of “the most powerful men in the world.”
Lawyer and Conservative Legal Activist
Net worth: $5 million (unconfirmed)
Although Leonard Leo spends much of his time out of the spotlight, it's believed he is the man behind the curtain making significant decisions that are helping to advance right-wing visions.
Birth Year: 1965
Birthplace: New York
Education: Earned degrees from Cornell University and Cornell Law School
Spouse: Sally Leo
Leonard Leo is an American lawyer and highly involved in politics, though you likely wouldn’t know it.
Leo is a conservative Catholic who began his political career in 1990. He managed to get a foot in the door after being given the opportunity to work as a clerk for a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals, MSNBC reported. It was during this time that Leo met now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the two developed a close friendship.
Then, in 1991, Leo took on a paid role with the Federalist Society and went on to become the executive vice president of the organization. He later transitioned to co-chairman (the role he currently holds today) and is said to be earning a reported $400,000 annually.
What is the Federalist Society?
The organization was founded in 1982 and according to MSNBC, was once described by Leo as a “conservative pipeline to take over the courts. The Society's website says that it now has roughly 70,000 members and “believes and trusts that individual citizens can make the best choices for themselves and society.”
Now, it’s worth noting that when Leo accepted the role with the Federalist Society, he reportedly pushed his start date back in order to aid Thomas as he went through his Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
In fact, many credit Leo for assisting with the selection and confirmation process for Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch and organizing “outside coalition efforts” to support the Supreme Court confirmations for John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Ironically, all of the Supreme Court Justices Leo aided through their confirmations voted in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade.
In addition to serving as a key player in securing a seat for the Justices named above, Leo was also appointed by former President George W. Bush to serve three terms as chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Later, he was given the opportunity to advise former President Donald Trump on judicial selection, according to his bio on the Federalist Society's website.
Leonard Leo has access to large sums of money that put him in a position to fund right-wing visions.
Over the years, Leo has strategically placed himself in positions that strengthen his conservative voice and ability to influence politics. In addition to working for the Federalist Society, Leo reportedly works as the CEO of Marble Trust Freedom where he earns an annual salary of $350,000.
Marble Trust Freedom, a political advocacy group founded in 2020, receives donations that can be spent on elections or any other “ideological projects,” reports ProPublica. Over the last two years, the group received one of the largest donations in history — $1.6 billion, from a businessman in Chicago, 90-year-old Barre Seid.
Clarence Thomas jokingly called Leonard Leo “the number three most powerful person in the world.”
With billions of dollars at his disposal and a group that “wants the court to roll back all sorts of key rights” backing him, according to MSNBC, Leo certainly has an upper hand in orchestrating the decision of conservatives.
Between the $1.6 billion Marble Trust Freedom now has on hand coupled with Leo’s connections and reported net worth of around $5 million (unconfirmed), he may be able to push right-wing agendas into motion.