[Ed. – Shocker: Republican president seeks advice from established conservative scholars when making monumental decision.]
Trump’s announced list of 25 candidates for Kennedy’s seat, which he has reportedly narrowed to two or three finalists, was selected by the Federalist Society, a group started by law students in in 1982 to move the courts to the right. It has grown into a network of 60,000 academics, legislators, law clerks and judges who make their voices heard on campuses, in opinion forums and in Republican presidential administrations. Financial backers include Google and Chevron, as well as the conservative billionaire Koch brothers.
The prime mover has been Leonard Leo, the society’s executive vice president. He recently went on leave to advise Trump on the Supreme Court nomination, working alongside White House counsel Don McGahn, also a Federalist Society member. Leo played the same role last year when Trump — who had promised during his campaign to let the Federalist Society pick his judges — made his first Supreme Court selection, Federalist Society member Neil Gorsuch.
Two other conservative justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, were both Federalist Society members. Chief Justice John Roberts served on a Federalist Society board. The organization’s original academic advisers were future Justice Antonin Scalia, Trump’s self-described model jurist, and fellow archconservative Robert Bork.