Just 20 months ago, Leonard Leo’s life’s work appeared in jeopardy. Hillary Clinton would soon be elected president. A liberal judge would be chosen to replace Antonin Scalia, the late lodestar of American conservatism, on the supreme court. “Staring at that vacancy, fear permeated every day in that countdown to November 8,” Leo recalled last year, in a speech to fellow religious conservatives. His three-decade fight to push the US judiciary to the right – and enable a crackdown on abortion – looked to be lost. A political miracle interceded. Clinton narrowly lost to Donald Trump, a thrice-married former “very pro-choice” Democrat, who now proposed “punishment” for women having abortions. “What an amazing turn of events,” Leo, of the conservative Federalist Society, said in his speech with a smile. Leo gave himself no public credit. But by helping then candidate Trump put together an unprecedented shortlist of approved supreme court nominees, Leo may have secured critical support from wavering rightwingers. “It was the decisive move in the entire campaign,” said Carrie Severino, an ally and chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network. This weekend, Leo will be advising Trump on his second nominee to the supreme court, having helped the… Read full this story
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