Viewpoint: Why do we stand? 



By Susan Covino Buell

For almost two months, year-round MDI residents and members of the Northeast Harbor summer community have been standing in front of Leonard Leo’s Northeast Harbor home. 

We hold signs. We talk to passersby. We hand out leaflets. We stand on public property. We hope people will learn about the dangers of Dark Money to our democracy. 

And yes, in reference to Mr. Joseph T. Ryerson’s Aug. 11 Letter to the Editor, there has been an arrest of a young man exercising his First Amendment rights of free speech. The young man was arrested while standing with us in front of Leonard Leo’s home. However, the incident, for which he never should have been arrested, had occurred earlier. 

Why do we stand? NO ONE is more responsible for the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade than “Justice Whisperer” Leonard Leo. And NO ONE is more responsible for the selection, nomination and Senate confirmation of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett than Leonard Leo. Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has characterized the current Supreme Court as the court that was bought with Dark Money. 

How was this accomplished? For decades, Leonard Leo has been laser focused on overturning Roe v. Wade. As president of the Federalist Society, he was in position to help conservative lawyers and judges “audition” for higher positions. The Federalist Society was the “gatekeeper.” And both George W. Bush and Donald Trump “subcontracted” Leonard Leo to select nominees. As revealed in their rulings, speeches and judicial opinions, each of the names offered had in common an intense hostility to the rights of women, workers, consumers and environmentalists. 

Then came the fight to see these right-wing nominees confirmed by the Senate. As Leo has said, working for confirmation is “like a political campaign.” Leo is a paid operative for the dark money donors who are buying judicial appointments in order reorder society and dismantle the administrative state. The Koch Corporation and the fossil fuel cartel, the Mercer family and the NRA, among others, have donated HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of dollars to promote the judicial nominees who mirror their goals. Their goals include LIMITING the Executive Branch’s ability to 

regulate industry, to protect the environment (EPA), to assure worker safety (OSHA) and to protect voting rights. 

How is Dark Money used? Much is spent on a barrage of ads and interviews across all media, on rallying the believers at conferences and other events, on paid lobbyists roaming the halls of Congress, AND on offering fundraising opportunities for Senators running for reelection. (Let us not forget that Leonard Leo held a fundraising event for Susan Collins, at his Northeast Harbor home, after she voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.) 

Are Leonard Leo’s actions illegal? Maybe. Are they corrupt? Yes. Are they anti-democratic? YES. 

Please Google Leonard Leo. 

Susan Covino Buell lives in Southwest Harbor.