The lawyer behind President Donald Trump's controversial Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh -- and his less controversial choice Neil Gorsuch -- is Leonard Leo, who is executive vice president of the Federalist Society.
A profile of Leo featured in the Washington Post shows just how influential Leo is in the Trump White House. Writing in Slate, Jamal Greene points out that Leo's worldview makes his influence at the White House scary.
"Trump’s Judge Whisperer Promised to Take Our Laws Back to the 1930s" the headline reads.
"... he warmly predicted the Supreme Court would soon return to the pre–New Deal era of 'limited, constitutional government.' Leo believes, in other words, that the court’s view of the Constitution was better off 85 years ago than it is today," Greene writes.
"I think we stand at the threshold of an exciting moment in our republic,'” Leo told the council at a closed-door meeting in February.
“This is really, I think, at least in recent memory, a newfound embrace of limited constitutional government in our country. I don’t think this has really happened since probably before the New Deal.”
Greene explains why Leo's attitude is concerning.
"The average American doesn’t know who Leo is, but as the Post piece makes clear, he‘s one of the most influential lawyers in the country," he writes.
"A longtime leader within the Federalist Society, Leo has had Donald Trump’s ear on judicial appointments and has been the main curator of the president’s list of Supreme Court candidates. Two of Leo’s personal picks, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, have been elevated to the highest court in the country since Trump’s election. So when Leonard Leo says he wants to return to a pre–New Deal Constitution, you should listen. And you should be alarmed."
He points out that the past Leo seems to glorify was a time of massive restrictions on people of color and women.
"In the first half of the 20th century, the police could beat confessions out of arrestees. Poor defendants had no right to a lawyer. Evidence could be illegally seized and used in prosecutions," he writes.
"In 1944, for example, South Carolina executed a 14-year-old black boy named George Stinney for the murders of two white girls. He was questioned alone, without his parents or a lawyer present, and convicted by an all-white jury after a two-hour trial and 10 minutes of deliberation," writes, about the notorious case.
"He wasn’t allowed to appeal. He had to sit on books to fit into the headpiece of the electric chair. Only in 2014, 70 years too late, did a circuit court judge vacate the 14-year-old Stinney’s murder conviction. The Stinney case tells you all you need to know about criminal justice in the age Leo wants to bring back."