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[Paul Levy © 2019]

Part 4:  Movement Strategies -- B

Law Reform, Media, Grassroots, and Networks

C.  Reform the Law

The Movement uses a vast array of approaches to change public policy.  It develops and proposes new legislation, it lobbies for these and other changes, it influences the election and selection of lawmakers, it educates and advises public officials, it litigates to obtain law reform through the courts, it organizes and supports the conservative legal community, and it develops and promotes broad, conservative approaches to the law.  These various Movement efforts occur both federally and in states.

Influences the selection of lawmakers 

Part III identified massive donations by the Movement to political campaigns and to supporting Republican candidates or, perhaps more frequently, attacking democratic ones.  In addition, Movement think tanks, advocacy groups, and other organizations press for appointments of certain people to executive office positions, regulatory boards, and judgeships.


•    The Federalist Society is a bar association composed of conservative lawyers and law students.  It was created in 1982 by law students at Yale University and the University of Chicago with help from Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia, respectively.  Today it has about 60,000 lawyer members, over 200 law school chapters with 10,000 student members, and a budget of over $25 million (2015).[1]  


Presidents have traditionally looked to the much older, larger and more inclusive American Bar Association for nominees for Supreme Court (and other judicial) positions. President Trump has considered only nominees from the Society’s list.

•    The Heritage Foundation – Trump appointments.  Donald Trump entered the presidency with few ideas of people to appoint to major positions.  The Heritage Foundation stepped in to help.  First it provided many people to his transition team.  Then it offered a pre-prepared list of potential appointees with their dossiers.  At least 66 key positions have been filled with Heritage staffers or ex-staffers.[2]   Moreover, with Movement support including, perhaps, Heritage support, President Trump has filled most cabinet posts with longstanding radical right-wingers.

Educates and advises public officials

Think tank staff and college teachers are often used to educate and advise public officials and their staffs in conservative policymaking.  

The Center for Economics and Law (the Center) – Judicial Training.  The Center was founded at the University of Miami in 1974 by Henry Manne and moved by him, in 1986, to George Mason University with major funding from the Koch Brothers.  Since early in the Center’s development, it has offered an intensive two- to three-week course for judges in a legal approach that Manne helped develop known as “Law and Economics (L&E).”[3]   L&E urges a highly conservative approach to judicial decision-making and is now a subject at many law schools and a major orientation in some such as the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason.  (see “Promotes Broad Conservative Law Perspectives” below). 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, among many liberal judges who have taken the program alongside conservative ones, said the course was “more intense than the Florida sun.”[4]   By 1990, 40% of federal judges had attended the program, and today over 5000 state and federal judges have taken it.[5]   

•    The Heritage Foundation -- Congressional staff training. “As junior staffers enter the workforce many have never been formally introduced to what freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society actually mean.”  The Heritage Congressional Fellowship Program fills this need.  In 2016, 80 staffers graduated from the program.[6] 

Develops, proposes, and lobbies for new laws

All Movement think tanks, national and state, as well as most academic centers, public interest firms, and grassroots organizations such as those affiliated with Americans for Progress are very involved in lobbying for and promoting conservative legislation.  Lobbying is of two types, direct lobbying -- efforts to influence politicians and bureaucrats directly; and, indirect or grassroots lobbying -- efforts that urge the public to contact their representatives or government officials with respect to an issue or proposed law, e.g. using ads, op-eds, blogs, conferences, etc. to persuade citizens to contact officials and promote school vouchers or denigrate Obamacare.  Often grassroots lobbying is disguised as “public education.” 

•    The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) [See Part 6 for additional information].  ALEC was founded in 1973 and has a budget of about $10 million.  It is a membership organization with private-support members (big corporations) and lawmaker members (state legislators).  The former pay dues of $12,000 per year with additional fees if they want to participate in bill-drafting task forces; and the latter pay $1000 for a 2-year membership.  Bills often reflect the interests of the corporate participants.

An independent study reported in 2019 that ALEC model bills were introduced at least 2,900 times in all 50 states between 2008 and 2016 with 600 becoming law.  This level of bill production and success made it second only to the Council of State Governments, a nonpartisan policy research group for states that had 4,300 bills introduced during that same period with 950 becoming law.  [ALEC’s website claims a higher current rate of introduction and passage -- bills introduced about 1000 times annually with about 20% becoming law.] 

Beyond producing and promoting model bills, ALEC provides networking among conservative lawmakers and between them and major conservative leaders and corporations.  [7]


•    The Heritage Foundation – Policy Blueprint.  Since 1981, Heritage has provided new administrations with its Policy Blueprints which are hundreds of pages long with program-by-program proposals including budgets.  With the Trump administration that began without substantial policy plans, the Blueprint served as a guide.  On the first anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, Heritage claimed that Trump had adopted 64% of its proposals. [8]  

Promotes Law Reform Litigation

The Powell Manifesto suggested that “the judiciary may be the most important instrument for social, economic and political change."  The Movement has pursued this notion almost from the start by establishing multiple public interest law offices that focus on law reform litigation such as litigation that resulted in Citizens United and that has sought to protect new, conservative legislation such as school vouchers.

•    Institute for Justice and Other Firms.  There are many conservative public interest firms.  The Institute for Justice ($27 million budget) has chapters in Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, Texas, and Washington, for example.  A few other entities include, the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law in Ohio; the Beacon Center in Tennessee; the Civitas Institute’s Center for Law and Freedom in North Carolina; the Freedom Foundation’s legal center in Washington; the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s legal center; the Illinois Policy Institute’s Liberty Justice Center; the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation in Michigan; the Maine Heritage Policy Center’s Center for Regulatory Reform and Constitutional Law; the North Dakota Policy Council’s Center for Constitutional Law; the Nevada Policy Research Institute’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Law; the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty; and the Wyoming Liberty Group’s legal center. 

•    The James Madison Center (JMC) is an example of a national public interest effort.  The Center was created in 1997 by attorney James Bopp and Mitch McConnell with funding from Betsy DeVos.  Its central agenda has been to remove all caps and disclosure requirements on federal (and increasingly state) campaign contributions.  Its landmark achievement was Citizens United but it has many victories that loosen campaign finance caps and disclosure requirements.

Organizes and Supports the conservative legal community

There are a variety of Movement groups and initiatives that help conservative lawyers and law students organize, network, gather, and support one another.  Here are two examples.

•    The Federalist Society is described and mentioned above for its influence on Supreme Court nominations.  Its networking occurs in lawyer, law student, and faculty divisions.  Its “Faculty Division seeks to facilitate dialogue among law professors interested in limited government, the separation of powers, Constitutional theory, the original understanding of the Constitution, and the importance of property rights and free markets.”  Its “Student Division … fosters a network of conservative and libertarian students eager to challenge the legal establishment as lawyers, faculty, judges, and policy makers.”  A major purpose of that division is “countering the tide of orthodox liberal ideology and combating the radicalism that has flooded our nation’s law schools.”


•    A Harvard Law School Student Guide to Conservative/Libertarian Public Interest Law[9]  gives a sense of the Movement’s breadth and sophistication.  It offers advice to Libertarian and Conservative law students as to how to proceed in their schooling – courses to take, professors to connect with, associations to join, internships and fellowships to seek….  Its final 20 (of 50) pages lists about 75 right wing public policy organizations and law firms by specialization (e.g. “Religious Liberties/Human Rights;” “Civil Liberties: Free Speech/Right to Bear Arms/Racial Preferences;” and “Education/School Vouchers”), and the Guide designates which of these conduct litigation.

Promotes broad, conservative approaches to the law

The Movement has advanced two broad conceptual approaches to law and legal analysis that advance conservative principles.  Both depend heavily on right-wing beliefs about the values of free markets, calling upon these values to reshape our thinking about democracy and about law-making and Constitutional interpretation.   The two theories have become increasingly entrenched in higher education generally and particularly in law schools and economics departments.  One is called Public Choice Theory and the other, Law and Economics.  [See Appendix 4 for a more developed description and analysis of public choice theory.]

•    Public Choice Theory (PC).  Economist James Buchanan was a leading designer of PC and was awarded a Nobel Prize for the theory in 1986.  Bothered by growing analyses that identify “market failures” in free market economies, Buchanan and others developed an analysis that identifies major “government failures,” particularly failures in democracies.  The starting point of PC is to see government decision-makers as merely self-interested (greedy) people like everyone else rather than as people with the public interest in mind.  PC finds many problems with democracy – problems of fairness, effectiveness, efficiency.  Its solutions are to shape constitutional rules that severely constrain democracy [a concern over this key feature of the Movement led Nancy Maclean to title her exposé of the Movement, Democracy in Chains.].

    Initially Buchanan established a foothold for PC in his Center for the Study of Public Choice at Virginia Tech, but he moved his Center to George Mason University in 1984 with funding from the Koch brothers. 

    By establishing academic centers, programs, endowed chairs, and other methods, Movement donors have been able to assure that PC theory is a component of government, economic, and legal analyses in most colleges and universities (see Infiltrating Academia, above).

•    Law and Economics (L&E).  L&E urges lawyers and judges to study economics, think like economists, and apply economic analysis to their legal judgments.  Here is a criminal justice example for how judges might use the approach:

An economist imagines that people make rational decisions by weighing benefits versus costs.  If you imagine criminals to be rational, you see them weighing two things against their desired gain: (A) the probability of getting caught and convicted and (B) the severity of the punishment if they are caught.  So, if you want to deter crime, you must either increase A or B.

Economics tells us which of these approaches to use – B (increase the severity of punishments).   B requires only a law creating severe punishments or a judge with the power and inclination to give more severe sentences.  In contrast, A requires the high costs of adding police, prosecutors, etc.  Expanding these costs also would require added taxation and public spending that dilute market forces and deter market growth.  So, and L&E approach to the law determines the proper legislative and judicial approach to the crime problem.

There are many applications of economic analysis to judicial decision-making in areas such as contracts, torts, government regulation, and crime.  And, if one imagines the Founding Fathers as having essentially an economic vision for America (liberty in the sense of free markets and keeping government and taxes small), L&E has clear guidance as to how the Constitution should be interpreted.[10]  

L&E has a very conservative influence on the law.  Jane Mayer talked to James Piereson, a key person in the early promotion of L&E in law schools and a noted conservative scholar and reported:

Law and Economics stresses the need to analyze laws, including government regulations, not just for their fairness but also for their economic impact.  Its proponents describe it in apolitical terms as bringing "efficiency" and "clarity" to the law, rather than relying on fuzzy, hard­to­quantify concepts like social justice. 

Piereson, however, admitted that the beauty of the program was that it was a stealth political attack and that the country’s best law schools didn’t grasp this and therefore didn’t block the ideological punch it packed. "I saw it as a way into the law schools — I probably shouldn’t confess that," he told The New York Times in 2005. "Economic analysis tends to have conservatizing effects."[11]

     The Olin Foundation.  The early promotion of L&E in law schools and economics departments was led by the Olin Foundation.  Jane Mayer stated that, “Like an academic Johnny Appleseed, the Olin foundation underwrote 83 percent of the costs for all L&E programs … between 1985 and 1989.”  Soon after, it gave $1.5 million to the University of Chicago (1992-4) and $2 million to Yale (1992-6) for this purpose.  It also gave $2.4 million in 1995 to Harvard to establish the Olin Center on Economics, Law and Business and a total of $6.2 million for L&E courses (1993-97).  Early in the promotion of L&E, Olin offered Olin Fellowships in it for law students.

     Conservative impact.  There have been some very sophisticated studies of the impact of L&E on judicial decision-making.  L&E seems clearly to lead to more conservative decisions.  A very recent study concluded:

Economics-trained judges significantly impact U.S. judicial outcomes. They render conservative votes and verdicts, are against regulation and criminal appeals, and mete harsher criminal sentences and deterrence reasoning. When ideas move from economics into law, ideas have consequences.

This seemed quite logical to researchers.  “If you teach judges that markets work, they deregulate government. 

If you teach judges that deterrence works, they become harsher to criminal defendants.”  They also felt that, “Economics training accounts for a substantial portion of the conservative shift in the federal judiciary since 1976.”[13] 


D.     Develop a Media Presence

The Movement fights the “war of ideas” by broadly disseminating its ideas.  At one level, think tanks and academic centers share ideas with policymakers, and conservative professors share ideas with students.  The war, however, demands that ideas be shared with broad, public audiences.  Since its first decades, the Movement has worked to do this. 

•    The Scaife, Smith Richardson, Olin and Bradley foundations gave over $1 million (1990-93) to rightwing newspapers like the National Interest and Public Interest

•    The Olin, Scaife, and Smith Richardson foundations each gave $100,000 grants to fund conservative student (college) newspapers and to establish a national network of them. 

•    The Scaife and Bradley foundations gave $340,000 (1993-4) to start National Empowerment TV, a rightwing cable station

•    The Olin Foundation gave $250,000 in 1994 to William F. Buckley, Jr.’s TV show, Firing Line

Moreover, as the Movement established close ties to the Evangelical right (see Subpart E, below), it began to gain access to that partner’s vast communications network.   Speaking of the partnership and that network, Saloma reported in 1984 that over 1300 radio stations (1 of 7 in America) were Christian owned and operated.  Two TV networks were as well, and they reached an estimated 40 million viewers.  The PTL (People That Love, formerly Praise the Lord) TV network, for example, had 179 affiliates – at that time, ABC had 204.  So messages of government incursions on religious freedom had a ready megaphone.

Over the past two decades, Movement media has expanded greatly.  Much of this occurred more from independent entrepreneurs recognizing the potential profitability of a big right-wing audience than from direct Movement initiatives.  Fox News and Breitbart news are major examples of this. 

•    Fox News was created in 1996 by billionaire Rupert Murdoch who hired Republican strategist Roger Ailes to run it.  A recent New York Times Magazine article described how Murdoch built media empires in Australia, Britain, and the U.S. and described the global impacts of these empires – the 2018 ouster of moderate Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in favor of ardent right-winger Malcomb Turnbull; the Brexit victory in England; and the “destabilizing” of American democracy.  

 At age 88, Murdoch is handing the reins of Fox News to his son Lachlan, a more ardent right-winger than his father.  Lachlan’s first major change at Fox was to create Fox Nation, “a subscription-only, on-demand streaming service … for Fox ‘superfans.’”  Fox Nation reaches viewers 24-hours a day with programming similar to Fox’s evening news, but being on the internet, it is less restrained.  The NYT article gives examples of newscasters referring to Black Lives Matter as “the new KKK,” to refugees as “rape-ugees,” and to a documentary crediting Dan Rather with the creation of fake news.  [14]

•    Breitbart News,  “Breitbart… is a far-right syndicated American news, opinion and commentary website founded in mid-2007 by conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart who conceived it as the Huffington Post of the right.”  When Breitbart died in 2012, Steve Bannon took over the network, expanded it according to Breitbart plans with help from a $10 million grant from Robert Mercer.  Bannon soon connected Breitbart with the Alt-right.  Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, longstanding donors to right-wing causes and members of the Koch network, became instrumental in Donald Trump’s campaign for president, and Bannon became a key figure with Trump’s transition team and early administration.[15] 


The Franklin Center is an example of a media organization that was a direct product of the Movement.

•    The Franklin Center.  The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity is an “online nonprofit news organization” created in 2009.  It is comprised of “a network of state-based journalists who investigate and report on state and local government.”  These “watchdogs… publish news and commentary from a free market, limited government perspective.”  The Center grew rapidly from a budget of $1.7 million initially to about $7 million in 2013 when it had reporters in 34 statehouses.  

This size proved unsustainable and today Franklin has watchdogs in only five statehouses.  One, for example, is in Wisconsin where the Bradley Foundation has bankrolled the operation over the years and most recently saved it with a $100,000 grant.[15] 

E.    Create a Grassroots Base

The Movement began as a top-down movement with a few extremely wealthy people promoting their personal interests and ideology.  To succeed – to change the culture and the law -- it needed a broad base, and it set about creating one.  One approach has been to partner with other national groups.  Another has been to establish state organizations that develop their own network of state partners and supporters.

National Partnering Approach

This approach involves creating ties with currently organized groups that share Movement interests.  Almost from the start, the Movement was able to establish linkages with one of these groups, the Christian Right.  Saloma (1984) described the religious right this way:

Perhaps no development in the conservative labyrinth has received more public attention than the emergence of the religious right as a major political force in 1979-80….  The new political strength of the religious right derives from two separate developments, the rise of evangelical Christianity as an alternative culture in America, complete with an independent communications network; and the active cultivation of this and other religious communities by political conservatives.

The Christian Right has multiple similarities with the Movement.  Like the wealthy Movement leaders, it depicts itself as an embattled minority (though it claims to be a moral majority) under attack by the liberal establishment.  It envisions itself and America to be in a culture-war between Eastern and Western (Judao-Christian, capitalist, free) civilizations.  It identifies big government as the enemy, undermining traditional American morality and family values by denying prayer in schools, condoning non-traditional marriage, bending gender, killing fetuses, and refusing aid to religious education. 

Early ties between the Religious Right and the Movement were often personal, revolving around people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who had solid connections to both movements.  A particularly powerful person of this sort was Paul Weyrith and another was Richard DeVos, Sr.

•    Paul Weyrith.  Weyrith was a key activist with the Movement and the Religious Right.  On the Movement side for example, he founded or co-founded the Heritage Foundation (1973), the Committee for Survival of a Free Congress (1974) (which, early-on trained conservative activists and has since morphed into several other key grassroots organizations), and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC, 1972).  On the Religion side, he created the Moral Majority (1979) [in fact, Weyrith coined that term] and the Christian Voice (the first of the Christian Right groups, a major voice in the late 20th Century).  For awhile, the Voice actually housed The Heritage Foundation

•    Richard DeVos, Sr.   Richard, co-founder of Amway, was the father of Dick, Jr. and father-in-law of Betsy Prince DeVos who have carried on his work and shaped key initiatives of their own.  Richard was very active with the Republican Party (the largest donor to Ronald Reagan, the Finance Chairman of the Party).  He also supported so many organizations of the Religious Right that Saloma referred to him as the “quiet Godfather and financial angel of the Religious Right Movement.”[17]   

Following the lead of DeVos, Sr., other major Movement donors have funded organizations that bridge the two arenas.

•    Early big donors.  Covington (1997), who reviewed the $210 million spent by the dozen largest right wing donors between 1992-94, found that over $3 million went to new religious think tanks such as the Institute on Religion and Democracy (est. 1981), the Institute on Religion and Public Life (est. 1989), and the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty (est. 1990).  These tanks promote the linkage of morality and liberty, of virtue and work, of free will and capitalism.

Covington offered an example of how beliefs of the secular Movement and the Religious Right merged: “When moral failure is invoked to explain the plight of the poor, both (political and religious conservatives) can unite around policies stressing market discipline and the replacement of government social programs with personal responsibility.”[18]  

•    Bradley Foundation.  Over the years the Bradley Foundation has backed institutions like The Family Research Council, The National Organization for Marriage, The American Principles Project, and Focus on the Family, all crusaders for “traditional values” in marriage and civic life, and has funded The Discovery Institute, a key booster of creationism as an alternative to evolution.[19] 

•    The National Christian Foundation (NCF).  NCF is much like Donor’s Trust.  People, companies, and foundations make grants to NCF (about $1 billion per year at this point) which in turn funds charities selected either by donors or by NCF.  Since 1982, it has given over $10 billion to charities.  Much NCF funding goes overseas and to traditional church support, but much also goes to Movement-related advocacy.  Inside Philanthropy reports, for example, that between 2001 and 2014, NCF gave The Alliance Defending Freedom, an umbrella organization of right-wing legal groups, over $51 million; Focus on the Family over $49 million, and The Family Research Council over $19 million.  It also funded many non-religious, Movement entities such as the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Federalist Society, Judicial Watch, and Accuracy in Media. [20]

•    The Wilks Brothers.  Faris and Dan Wilks made a fortune in fracking in Texas before selling their company for $3.5 billion in 2012.  Thereafter, they have been very active politically; e.g. contributing $15 million to support Ted Cruz for President in 2016, contributing nearly $2 million to an anti-abortion PAC in 2018.  And through their Thirteen Foundation, they have contributed nearly $100 million since 2010 to anti-abortion efforts as well as to The Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and the Heritage Foundation.[21] 

•    The DeVos and Prince Families.  Both families are major, longtime supporters of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, a $10 million a year think tank in their home state of Michigan.  The Institute’s mission is “to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.”  It has a Movement-oriented agenda and, among various activities has received regular Exxon-Mobil grants and run a blog challenging climate change science.[22]   The DeVos and Prince families, as well as the Bradley Foundation and several other major donors, make many grants to private schools generally and religious schools in particular.

The Right has sought more latitude for preaching politics from the pulpit, and President Trump provided that protection in 2017:

•    Trump Executive Order (2017).  The Tax Reform Act of 1954 contained the Johnson Amendment that prohibited churches and others with 501(c)(3) tax exemptions from engaging in politics and endorsing candidates.  In May, 2017, President Trump signed Executive Order 13798 stating that IRS would not enforce that prohibition so that churches could exercise their free speech including the right to preach partisan politics from the pulpit and endorse or oppose particular candidates.

Beyond partnering with the Religious Right, the Movement has established close ties to a number of other national organizations that share the Movement’s anti-government or anti-tax positions.  Among Movement partners are the National Rifle Association (NRA), tax resistance groups, the National Chamber of Commerce (reaching back to Powell Manifesto days), Pro-Life groups, and groups resisting school desegregation which have morphed into school choice groups.[24]   As a result, the state network and various national organizations together with their partners regularly defend Second Amendment rights, urge reversal of Roe v. Wade, and promote lower taxes, less business regulation, and more school choice and vouchers.

A very interesting example of Movement partnering is the partnership that began in the 1980s between an early Koch organization, Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) and tobacco companies who were fighting government regulation.  In the early and mid-2000s, the partners created some of the groundwork for what would become the Tea Party Movement in 2009 which appeared to be (and was promoted as) a spontaneous movement.  Appendix 8 briefly describes this partnership. 

State Grassroots Network Approach

A second approach to creating a grassroots base has been to establish state entities, namely state think tanks via the State Policy Network described earlier and state organizing entities, primarily the 38 state chapters of Americans For Progress (AFP).  A very valuable piece of research on AFP has been done by Harvard Professor Theda Skocpol and Columbia University Professor Alexander Hertel-Fernandez.  They place the organization in the context of the larger takeover of the Republican Party by the Movement. 

•    Americans for Prosperity (AFP) [previously Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE)].  CSE was founded by the Koch brothers in 1984, and they had poured about $8 million into the organization by 1993.  A rift in CSE led, in 2003, to a spinoff organization called AFP.  From the beginning, the purpose of CSE-AFP was to generate a grassroots movement.  The Kochs felt that “think tanks alone were not enough to effect change.”    In 2000, Public Citizen (an opponent of big corporate power) reported that CSE had a budget of $15 million:

While CSE purports to be a grassroots voice of consumers, it is, more accurately, a front group for corporate lobbying interests that refuses to reveal its funding sources. As documented in a Washington Post article earlier this year, groups such as CSE "provide analyses, TV advertising, polling and academic studies that add an air of authority to corporate arguments – in many cases while maintaining the corporate donors' anonymity." [26]  

Today the Kochs remain the major funder along with many others, mostly now anonymous.  AFP received over $64 million in 2016 and had chapters in 38 states as of April, 2018.  Over the past few years, AFP (sometimes through offshoots it creates) has focused much attention on anti-union advocacy, climate change denial, and anti-health care reform.  In 2014, it has a fulltime staff of 240 and has been called the third largest political party in the U.S.[27] 

A common AFP approach is for AFP members to join in campaigns.  Some campaigns are national such as the attack on Obamacare and the attack on minimum wage proposals or the promotion of climate change denial or the effort to tighten voter registration or to uncap campaign finance.  Others are waged primarily within a state such as various efforts in Wisconsin to support anti-labor and school voucher initiatives of Scott Walker.[28]   

•    Libre Initiative Trust and LI Institute [founded: 2012; closely affiliated with Americans For Prosperity); Expends. $13 million in 2016].  Libre’s website says (3-13-19) that its headquarters are in South Texas and that it “has a presence in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Virginia and will be expanding [to] more states in the coming months.”

Libre brings the right-wing message to a Latino audience. It lauds “economic freedom” which it explains “is the ability to prosper through the free exercise of economic activity while letting others do the same.”  It identifies the “five principles of economic freedom: property rights, rule of law, free trade, a constitutionally limited government, and sound money supply.”  And it explains that, “over the last few years, we have seen Washington move us further from the principles of economic freedom and, as a result, we have seen an entire nation suffer the consequences especially the Hispanic community (citing disproportionate unemployment rates, home foreclosures, etc.).” 

The General Values of Networks

Both organizations and people in the Movement are often networked.  Networks enable advantages such as sharing materials, easy collaboration, and mutual support.  But they also allow synchronization of actions.  This is especially the case where networks are funded by a few major donors who can heavily influence network activity.

So, for example, the 64 state TTs, the 100 or so national tanks and institutes, and the 36 state advocacy chapters can quickly mobilize (and have mobilized) attacks on President Obama, Hillary, and Obamacare or in support of climate change denial, Brett Kavanaugh, and school vouchers.  Here are some of the Movement’s key networks:



     State think tanks – State Policy Network (SPN)
    State advocacy organizations – Americans for Prosperity (AFP)
    Conservative state legislators – American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
    Conservative lawyers -- Federalist Society
    Conservative students -- Young America’s Foundation (YAF)
    Conservative professors – National Association of Scholars 
    Donor networks -- Koch Donors Network
    Big corporations -- National Chamber of Commerce; Koch’s Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce






[1]   Sources:  Federalist Society website, IRS 990 for 2015, and Wikipedia (“Federalist Society”).

[2]  New York Times (2018).  How one conservative think tank is stocking Trump’s government, at:

[3]   For early history, see: Big corporations bankroll seminars for U.S. Judges, Washington Post, 20 Jan 1980, available at:

[4]   Elliott Ash, Daniel L. Chen, Suresh Naidu (2018).  Ideas have consequences: The impact of Law and Economics on American justice (Preliminary version C), at:

[5]   See:  Antonin Scalia Law School, Mason Judicial Program at:

[6]  The Heritage Foundation (2016). Heritage graduates its largest Congressional Fellowship class ever.  At: .


[7]  Most information on ALEC is from: Yvonne Winger Sanchez and Rob O’Dell (4/3/19). What is ALEC? ‘The most effective” for conservatives, says Newt Gingrich at:

[8]   See New York Times (6-20-18):  How One Conservative Think Tank is Stocking Trump Government, at:


[10]   This example is based roughly on material in Elliott Ash, Daniel L. Chen, Suresh Naidu (2018).  Ideas have consequences: The impact of Law and Economics on American justice (Preliminary version C), pages 7-8, at:

[11]   Jane Mayer (2016).  How right-wing billionaires infiltrated higher education, In The Chronicle Review, 2/12/16 at: 

[12]  See description at: Louis DeAlessi (1999) The John M. Olin Fellowship Program in Law and Economics at:

[13]   Elliott Ash, Daniel L. Chen, Suresh Naidu (2018), Supra, at page 37. 

[14]   Jonathan Mahler and Jim Rutenberg, Planet Fox in the New York Time Magazine, April 7, 2019

[15]  The quote is from Wikipedia:  Additional information is from that source and from:  James Rainey (2012). sets sights on ruling the conservative conversation (8-1-2012), at:

[16]   Sources: The following cites with Franklin Center information: (re Bradley funding) (2017 report).
Bradley Foundation Funds Right-Wing Media Machine, at:

[17]   John Saloma, supra, at page 54.

[18]   Sally Covington (1997).  Moving a Public Policy Agenda: The Strategic Philanthropy of Conservative Foundations (National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy), page 26 at: and


[19]   See: Philip Rojc (2017). Path to power: Who funds the religious right, at:

[20]   See: Philip Rojc (2017).  Big money, quiet power: A look at the National Christian Foundation, at:

[21]   See: Philip Rojc (2017).  Path to power, supra. And see: Teddy Wilson (2018).  Uber-wealthy Texans are bankrolling the rise of fake clinics across the state.  At:

[22]   Sources:  Rachel Tabachnick (2017).  Prince and DeVos Families at intersection of radical free market privatizers and Religious Right.  At:  And, Media Mouse (2007). Grand Rapids think tank receives an additional $50,000 from Exxon Mobil.

[23]   See:  Executive Order 13798 at:

[24] The response to Brown v. Board in the South was massive resistance.  Virginia took the lead and other states in the Deep South followed.  Resistance led to an extensive array of laws calling for “school choice.”  Court-ordered desegregation began in the 1960s in the North (it took time for courts to see that de facto segregation in the North was prompted by public actions just as de jure segregation in the South).  Anti-busing groups were an organized Northern force at the time the Right-Wing Movement was launched.

[25]   Theda Skocpol and Alexander Hertel-Fernandez (2016).  The Koch Network and the rightward shift in U.S. politics.

[26]   Jane Mayer (2010).  Covert operations: the billionaire Koch brothers who are waging a war against Obama, in the New Yorker at:

[27]   Public Citizen (2000).  Corporate shill enterprise: A public citizen report on Citizens for a Sound Economy, a corporate lobbying front group, at:

[28]   Phil Bump (2014) Americans for Prosperity may be America’s third biggest political party. 

[29]   See Wikipedia “Americans For Prosperity” and footnoted citations at:


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