RUNNING THE COURT
Jeffrey Toobin does well to expose the enormous influence of Leonard Leo and the Federalist Society, a conservative organization that has infiltrated many levels of the U.S. judicial system (“Full-Court Press,” April 17th). Toobin says that Leo, who has been the executive vice-president of the society for many years, in effect chose three of the nine current Supreme Court Justices. This is alarming, particularly because Leo and the society are committed to an “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution, which is anything but what the Framers had in mind. (Justice Antonin Scalia called himself an originalist, as does his admirer and replacement, Neil Gorsuch.) As Toobin explains it, originalists believe that the government “can’t do anything unless it’s specifically authorized in the Constitution.” If that’s so, the originalists of the Federalist Society are frauds. Where does the Constitution specifically authorize the treatment of corporations (which the Framers distrusted) as people—or of money as speech? Where does it specifically authorize judicial review of executive and legislative actions? Where does the Constitution give the President the right to start wars? Where does the Fifteenth Amendment, intended to protect the voting rights of African-Americans, allow for racist voter suppression? The originalists don’t really give a hoot about what the Framers wanted. Rather, they are using the Framers as cover for their right-wing policies. It’s disappointing that this piece didn’t do more to expose their hypocrisy.
Santa Fe, N.M.
(From the May 1, 2017 issue of The New Yorker.)