Organizations supporting a fringe right-wing theory in a case currently before the Supreme Court that could mean the end of democracy as it’s known in the U.S. have received tens of millions of dollars from conservative dark money groups, a new report has found.
According to research by Accountable.US, over the past six years, right-wing dark money groups have given nearly $90 million to five organizations, including the Honest Elections Project and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), that have filed in court to support the anti-democratic plaintiffs in Moore v. Harper.
The single largest donor is DonorsTrust, a dark money group with ties to deep-pocketed conservatives and right-wing organizations. Since 2016, DonorsTrust has given over $70 million to these organizations. Other groups, like the Lynde & Harry Bradley Foundation and America First Works, have given millions of dollars to the organizations supporting the plaintiffs in the case.
The largest recipient of the money has been right-wing voter suppression group Honest Elections Project, receiving over $70 million from DonorsTrust and America First Works. Honest Elections Project has ties to Leonard Leo, an extremely influential conservative activist who had a hand in appointing every sitting right-wing Supreme Court justice.
The group filed a brief in September in support of the plaintiffs in Moore v. Harper, saying that a ruling in their favor would be a “net positive” for election administration.
The plaintiffs are arguing for the adoption of the “independent state legislature theory” being pushed by right-wing groups that would give state legislatures the sole authority over election administration, allowing them to draw gerrymandered maps, pass voter suppression laws and potentially even overturn elections with no intervention from courts. Voting rights experts say that the theory is based on a completely distorted reading of the Constitution.
If the anti-democratic theory is adopted by the Supreme Court, it could severely weaken voting rights in the U.S.
“For the better part of a decade, wealthy conservative mega-donors secretly gave nearly $90 million through their shadowy networks to the organizations that are actively pressuring the Supreme Court to adopt a fringe legal doctrine that, if enacted, would eliminate checks and balances in our federal elections and empower state legislatures to manipulate and undermine our elections,” said Accountable.US Power and Influence Director Kayla Hancock. “We can not allow extremist groups hiding in the shadows to break down our constitutional rights and derail our democracy.”
Though dark money, the far right is increasingly taking over the U.S. court system. Anti-abortion groups have flooded state court systems with dark money campaigns to nominate or elect partisan judges to courts, while a network of conservative dark money groups has spent decades hand-picking far right Supreme Court nominees that would eventually hand down the landmark decision to overturn Roe v. Wade this year.
These groups are prolific within the right and quietly provide funding for some of the right’s most radical and dangerous movements; conservative groups that attacked Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson when President Joe Biden picked her as his Supreme Court nominee earlier this year are also behind recent far right attacks on public education and the teaching of subjects surrounding race and sexuality.