The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jeff Hauser,

RDP Analysis Finds 13 Court Whisperer-Backed Groups Urged SCOTUS To Gut Securities Law Enforcement

The Supreme Court has issued a 6-3 ruling in Securities and Exchange Commission v. Jarkesy kneecapping the ability of the SEC and other federal agencies to crack down on corporate wrongdoing.

This case starts with the SEC fining George Jarkesy, a conservative talk-radio host and hedge fund manager, $300,000 for securities fraud—he had brazenly lied to investors about the value of his hedge fund. But Jarkesy challenged the decision on the basis that the process by which he was fined—an administrative proceeding adjudicated by an administrative law judge (ALJ)—was unconstitutional.

In 2022, the far-right Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of Jarkesy, ruling that both SEC ALJs and perhaps all SEC adjudications of securities fraud are unconstitutional.

In the words of journalist Mark Joseph Stern, the Supreme Court’s decision today is a “massive blow to the federal government’s ability to enforce regulations against lawbreakers.” The decision is a boon for white collar criminals.

Some of the organizations that supported the weakening of the SEC have direct ties to the powerful friends and benefactors of the Court. The very same people who are flying Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito to vacation destinations on private jets are closely tied to organizations that are urging the Court through amicus briefs to rule in a manner favorable to corporate wrongdoers.

An RDP review of amicus briefs in the case finds at least 13 amicus filers with ties to court-whisperers and judicial gift givers like Leonard Leo, Charles Koch, Paul Singer, Harlan Crow, and wealthy elites in the Horatio Alger Association in which Clarence Thomas is a key member.

One brief was filed jointly by a host of groups, including these four with ties to court-whisperers:

  • ADVANCING AMERICAN FREEDOM: Advancing American Freedom (AAF) is a conservative advocacy group founded in April 2021 by former Vice President Mike Pence. AAF staunchly opposes reproductive rights and bodily autonomy, aims to defund public education, denies climate science, and opposes rail safety regulations. AAF has filed a petitioner-side amicus brief in both Loper Bright and Relentless.
    • LEO: Leonard Leo’s Concord Fund contributed more than $1.5 million to Advancing American Freedom between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2022.
  • MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: The Manhattan Institute is a right-wing think tank that has defended trickle-down economics, spread climate denial propaganda at the behest of the fossil fuel industry, and argued for the privatization of social services.
    • PAUL SINGER: Multi-billionaire Paul Singer, a benefactor of Justice Alito, is the current Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Manhattan Institute. He contributed $8,760,000 to the Manhattan Institute between 2011 and 2022, funding $1,635,000 in 2022 alone.
    • KOCH: The Manhattan Institute received $3,182,717 from Koch organizations and foundations between 1997 and 2017. The Manhattan Institute is also an associate member of the Koch-linked State Policy Network.
    • LEO: Leonard Leo’s 85 Fund gave the Manhattan institute $450,000 in 2022.
    • CROW: Kathy Crow, wife of real estate mogul Harlan Crow, is a current Trustee of the Manhattan Institute.
  • AMERICANS FOR LIMITED GOVERNMENT: Americans for Limited Government (ALG) is an ultraconservative group that supported the fake elector plot.
    • LEO: Leonard Leo’s Concord Fund gave ALG $1,685,000 between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022.
    • ALG touts on its website an endorsement from Ginni Thomas: “If America had an official fire department to help preserve our liberties, Rick Manning and Americans for Limited Government could be its Captain.”

Others who filed briefs arguing that the SEC should be kneecapped include:

The Revolving Door Project (RDP) scrutinizes executive branch appointees to ensure they use their office to serve the broad public interest, rather than to entrench corporate power or seek personal advancement.