Right-wing groups spent untold millions from undisclosed sourcesDuring her confirmation hearings in March and April, Jackson, who is moderate enough to have the support of her Senate nominee Ketanji Jackson Jackson, was opposed to her. a police unionProminent GOP legal figures.
Jane Mayer’s The New Yorker exposéRecently, it was revealed that the American Accountability Foundation (AAF) played a role in attacking Judge Jackson and other Biden nominees. AAF appears to be an offshoot of the Conservative Partnership Institute — another dark money organization that has received moneySources of major right-wing power, such as the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and Bradley board member and Trump apologist Cleta. AAF was credited with the absurdity of starting it. much debunkedIt is a lie that Judge Jackson is soft about sentencing sex crimes offenders. This claim was later widely promoted by other right-wing dark finance groups.
Another bizarre attack method is Senators Ted Cruz(R-Texas). Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) — fueled and amplified by dark money groups, like the “Independent Women’s Forum” (IWF) and Heritage Foundation, which have also received funding from the Bradley Foundation — accused Judge Jackson of bringing critical race theory (CRT) to the Supreme Court. The senators falsely claimed that she would use it in her legal decisions. They also implied that she promoted it as a board member at a private school that allegedly taught CRT. (Judge Jackson testified that she has had no say in the school’s curriculum.)
Critical race theory, a legal theory that analyzes the impact of historical racism on our laws and legal structures was not well-known until the early 2021. Since then, right-wing operatives have been dark money organizationsCRT has been used by anonymous ultra-wealthy donors to fight the teaching of racism and diverse representations of gender, sexuality and race.
These attacks are likely a preview of the desperate and hate-filled messaging that right-wing politicians and media will employ to try to gain advantage in November’s midterm elections. They also highlight the expanding influence of a small number of elites using dark money to impose their narrow views on others and to control how Americans think and what they learn in school — from kindergarten to law school.
Dark Money Takeover Courts via Law Schools
It is not surprising that Judge Jackson was subject to anti-CRT attack during her Supreme Court confirmation hearing. These attacks are the result of an ongoing effort by elite families to control what is taught at law schools across the nation, as well K-12 schools and higher education.
The Federalist Society, a dark money organization founded in 1982 as part of a concerted effort to foster right-wing libertarian recruitment networks, has sought to alter the entire legal landscape by “developing and promoting far-right positions, guiding law students and young lawyers accordingly, and influencing who will become judges, top government officials, and decision-makers,” according to the progressive advocacy group People For the American Way.
The Federalist Society, a right-wing juggernaut within law profession, is called the Federalist Society. It was awarded nearly $30 millionIn funding in 2019, including money from Koch Industries or anonymous sources. It has chapters at nearly every major university in the nation and has dominated the judicial nomination process. Leonard Leo, a long-standing leader in the Federalist Society, is now retired. hand-selected Trump’s list of Supreme Court nominees, including now-Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
The Federalist Society’s strategy to dominate legal thought is to disguise its right-wing approach towards the law as a disguise. “judicial philosophy”On college campuses, at conferences it hosts, and now, during judicial nominations. The Federalist Society has been wildly successful at promoting its right-wing concocted “originalist approach,” which purports to interpret the “original intent” of the men who wrote and amended the Constitution, but, in effect, allows the limited views of long-dead white men to trump the actual language ratified in the Constitution. The IWF, which is part the massive, has been so successful that $600 million Leonard Leo network, encouraged GOP members in Congress to attack Judge JacksonFor not promising to use it during her confirmation hearings.
The Federalist Society represents one element of a large coordinated effort by both the Christian and Libertarian right to build a right-wing consensus among the legal professions and beyond in order for us to reshape the political structures.
Today’s right-wing attacks on CRT specifically and education broadly are part of longstanding efforts by a few ultra-wealthy individuals to reshape our educational system into one that trains students to be compliant with authority, rather than independent thinkers who value diversity.
Dark Money Assaults on K-12 Schools
K-12 public schools have long been a target of this fight by the ultra-wealthy to control what students learn in schools, largely by promoting “school choice” or the funneling of public funding to privately administered schools.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been a major privatizing forceAlongside the right-wing funding sources the DeVos familyThe KochsCharles Koch, a billionaire libertarian oil mogul, led the effort. Waltons(heirs to Walmart fortune) and other billionaire families. The Gates Foundation is also largely responsible for the Common Core standards (drawing from George W. Bush’s destructive “No Child Left Behind” policy) that have shaped public school curriculaIts testing program has been in place since 2014.
Right-wing dark money forces with the financial backing of our country’s wealthiest people have taken advantage of families’ discontent with inadequate government support during the COVID-19 pandemic to attack public schools via their curricula, library holdings, teachers’ unions, masking and vaccine requirements, and school board politics.
Right-wingers have decried librarians and teachers in K-12 schools as “racist” for teaching about the U.S.’s history of race and racism. They also smear educators as sexually orientated. “groomers”For presenting literature about the experiences of LGBTQ youths and adults.
Christopher Rufo, with the dark money think tank the Manhattan Institute — which has received vast funds from the Bradley, Gates, Thomas W. Smith, Koch Family and Walton Family Foundations — is credited with inventingThe conflict over CRT. Rufo has made no effort to hide his use of CRT to fuel a culture war: “The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.’ We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.”
These attacks on public schools are a renewed effort by the right-wing struggles for privatization and control over education.
At a CPAC conference in July 2021, Inez Stepman, senior policy analyst at the IWF, asserted that in order to change what is taught in K-12 schools, parents should leverage school choice “so when they show up at those school board meetings, they are able to say ‘you know what, if you don’t satisfy us, your salary is going to be cut. We pay your salary.’”
IWF has played a key role in manufacturing outrage over CRTSchools have close ties with school privatizers such as the DeVoses. It has also received funding support from other sources, such as the Waltons, the Bradley Foundation and the Koch Network.
The funding of new right-wing “concerned parent” organizations, like Moms for Liberty and Parents Defending Education, that have popped up to fuel anti-CRT fervor in the past two years is still unknown due to weak disclosure laws. However, we know that these organizations have close ties the Koch network GOP politicians.
Moms for Liberty is a leader in the fight for freedom. ban booksIn public schools and libraries, books written by Black or LGBTQ+ authors and to intimidate school board members. Parents Defending Education acts in the capacity of the legal arm for the anti-CRT darkmoney movement. It has, for example, intervenedIn and filed lawsuits in opposition to school districts’ racial equity practices that offend the right wing.
Other established dark money organizations that fund anti-CRT attacks share funding with dark money projects dedicated towards shifting higher education to right like the Thomas W. Smith Foundation. Reporting by Judd Legum & Tesnim Zikeria showed that the Thomas Smith Foundation donated approximately $2.5 million. $12.75 millionBetween 2017-2019, to groups that support anti-CRT lines, such as the Manhattan Institute and Heritage Foundation, IWF, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), etc.
The right-wing struggle to control higher education and K-12 curricula is intertwined in the goals, funding sources, as well as their infrastructure. Hillsdale College, a college that has received over 500,000 dollars in funding, is now a university. $520,000Since 2008, The Charles Koch Foundation $90,000 from the Thomas Smith Foundation since 2017, has had a “far-reaching role in shaping and disseminating the ideas and strategies that power the right,” per a recent Salon exposé. It is now moving to K-12 education by establishing a network of charter schools aimed at pushing “patriotic education.”
Right-Wing Family Foundations that Fuel Anti-CRT Outrage Also Fight for Higher Education Control
The right’s deep-seated mistrust of higher education can be traced to the backlash against the New Deal’s infusion of resources to public universities in the 1930s. It ramped up during the Cold War-era witch hunts against “communist” intellectuals, during which National ReviewWilliam F. Buckley Jr., founder, believed that alumni and trustees should have the power to regulate curricula and dismiss professors who do not adhere to their Christian, free market values.
In the 1970s as neoliberalism was gaining popularity, Lewis Powell, a future Supreme Court Justice and tobacco lawyer, wrote his notorious “Powell Memo” at the behest of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, laying out a plan for wealthy donors to take control of higher education in terms similar to Buckley’s. Charles Koch soon built upon the Powell memo to argue corporations were being forced to subsidize universities’ radicalism through taxes and should demand something in return.
Dark money “think tanks” funded by the U.S.’s wealthiest families and dedicated to controlling education from kindergarten to law school have since exploded in number and funding.
A 2021 reportUnKoch My Campus reported that Koch foundation payments to colleges, universities, and higher education programming totaled $458 Million between 2005-2019. Contributions have increased significantly over time.
Such “donations” are designed to produce research supporting free-market extremism and to mainstream those ideas using the credibility of their host academic institutions, as well as to identify sympathetic students to channel into their dark money network. They also come with a “quid pro quo.”
Leaked documents show that Koch has been involved in numerous scandals. donatedIn exchange for saying yes to more hiring, money is given to higher education institutions.
In recent years, other right-wing funding sources donated millions of dollars annually to colleges, universities, and the Thomas W. Smith Foundation. $5 millionIn 2019, and the Bradley Foundation, who gave more than $3 millionPlus, more dark money groups will shape education programming in 2021.
Foundations have funded dark money groups to fund professors who support right-wing positions. These groups have also funded academic posts.
Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a dark-money group that was founded in 2012 with seed money donated by Foster Friess, the late GOP mega-donor, has received donations from the Bradley Foundation, DeVos Family, and Thomas W. Smith Foundations. This is used to identify, educate and train right-wing students on college campuses.
TPUSA — which received almost $40 million from secret donors in 2019 — also promotes the harassment of professors who do not share their ideology. It launched its Professor Watchlist website in 2016. This site adds professors (a) group that is disproportionately Black) to a public watchlist — for actions as mundaneAs a participant in a demonstration, writing about gun violence and teaching about it race and racism — which often results in their being threatened with violence.
Campus Reform, a project of the Leadership Institute, which recruits and trains right-wing students to report on their liberal and leftist professors’ “misconduct,” similarly sics “armies of trolls on professors across the country,” as described in The Intercept. So, too. College Fix, a publication published by the Student Free Press Association. Both the Leadership Institute, and SFPA received funding through the Kochnetwork and the Bradley Foundation.
Dark money groups, including Citizens for Renewing America (another), have connections to the Trump administration. offshootAlliance for Free Citizens and the Bradley-funded Conservative Partnership Institute, both have been funded by Bradley. written model billsLimit the speech of educators According to PEN America, 181 state bills that they call “educational gag orders,” including 32 active higher ed bills, have been introduced in states across the country since 2021.
Recent attacks on K-12 schools as well as higher education are a brazen manifestation long-standing efforts to silenceControl what students learn from teachers. The extent to which right-wing families, elites and individuals are funding these attacks is less obvious. They are also fueling efforts at controlling what is taught to future politicians and lawyers. The right-wing’s goal in dominating centers of learning — from kindergarten to law school — is the same: to create a cadre of people dedicated to promoting their right-wing view. Attacks on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearings — for her supposed connections to critical race theory and for not explicitly adopting the right-wing legal interpretation pushed by the Federalist Society — represent a confluence of the Christian and libertarian right’s efforts to turn back our rights and reshape our political system.
Until government policies place the knowledge and labor of teachers over billionaires, we can expect the ultra-wealthy in this country to continue to dominate our educational institutions, dictating what our young people learn and how they think, with vast implications for the future of our country’s political structure.