The Unseen Forces Behind Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's Retirement
A True Story of Dark Money, Partisan Mercenaries and Political Hatchet Men
Sometimes news stories seem to fall from the sky. You wake up one morning, throw on some clothes, head downstairs rubbing the sleep from your eyes while half-heartedly skimming through Apple News and BAM!—some random Supreme Court justice named “Stephen Breyer” plans to retire and EVERYONE is screeching that Biden better keep his promise to nominate a Black Woman (speaking of which, here is a handy list of seven pre-selected candidates!) and old Joe better choose one soon… or else!
Of course, the story didn’t actually fall from the sky—it had been quietly brewing for months. The problem is that major news outlets don’t really care about investigative journalism anymore. Instead, they’re in the reactionary business. Once the Big Event happens, then they’ll report it, and usually with a partisan slant. But all the shady shenanigans that lead up to the Big Event tend to fly under the radar.
So, what were the shenanigans that led to Breyer’s retirement? Fox News host Tucker Carlson offered the first clue during his opening monologue on January 27th. Carlson called attention to a large, black truck that had been parked outside the Supreme Court for weeks. The truck served as a makeshift billboard, decorated with a clear message for Justice Breyer. Here’s a screenshot:
As you can see, the billboard reads, “Breyer, Retire. It’s time for a Black woman Supreme Court justice. There’s no time to waste.”
As you can also see, this wasn’t some guy standing outside the Court with a sign made from poster board. This truck cost money—the type of money that gets spent by organizations, not individual people. And in this case, the truck was sponsored by a group called, “Demand Justice.” So, what the heck is Demand Justice and who funds it and why? Let’s take a look.
Demand Justice is a left-wing advocacy group founded in 2018. Its objective is to influence the political leanings of America’s courts by launching negative media campaigns against conservative judicial nominees. It was created by the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a 501(c)(4) left-of-center lobbying and advocacy group founded in 2008. The “501(c)(4)” is what categorizes the Sixteen Thirty Fund as a classic “dark money” organization. The term “dark money” refers to the political spending of nonprofits which are not required to disclose their donors. This means that corporations and wealthy individuals can pump unlimited funds into these groups, which in turn, can spend those funds to influence elections and other political processes without voters knowing where the money came from. In other words, they allow the super rich to influence politics anonymously.
As for the Sixteen Thirty Fund, it is owned and operated by a multi-billion dollar consulting company called Arabella Advisors. Arabella caters exclusively to left-leaning clientele (i.e. the Democratic Party), and controls four major “funds,” including the Sixteen Thirty Fund.
We’ll discuss Arabella in greater detail in a moment, but first, let’s return to Demand Justice. The organization is nominally run by a Democratic operative, and frequent CNN contributor, named Brian Fallon. Fallon’s resume includes being the press secretary for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. However, the registered owner of Demand Justice is a lawyer named Ezra Reese. Reese is currently a senior partner at the Elias Law Group, headed by long-standing Democratic hatchet man, Marc Elias.
Elias is one of those classic “DC Swamp” lawyers we all wish didn’t exist. The New York Times described him as, “one of the most formidable election lawyers in the country, and arguably one of the most influential of unelected Democrats in Washington.” The Washington Post called him, “a go-to lawyer for Democrats in recount fights and redistricting battles.”
So, let’s run through a few of his career highlights.
1.) Elias won the recount battle for Al Franken’s Senate seat in 2008. He and his team of attorneys—including Ezra Reese—transformed Franken’s 727-vote loss into a 312-vote victory. This gave the Democratic Party a supermajority in the Senate, which allowed them to pass the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Therefore, without Elias’s intervention, the most sweeping healthcare legislation in America’s history would likely not have passed.
2.) Elias served as general council for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, during which time, he hired the investigative firm Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research on Donald Trump. Fusion GPS then contracted former British spy Christopher Steele to investigate Trump, which led to the creation of the infamous “Steele Dossier.” The dossier’s origin as partisan research paid for by the Clinton campaign was initially kept hidden from the press (as well as lawmakers), which prompted the “Russian collusion” narrative that President Trump was being blackmailed by Russian intelligence. The dossier, which was comprised of memos detailing unsubstantiated allegations, was even used by the FBI to acquire a FISA warrant—a tool originally designed to combat global espionage and terrorism—to spy on Trump aide Carter Page during the campaign. In other words, the magnitude of corruption behind this dossier was off the freaking charts.
3.) Elias played a key role in the enactment of sweeping changes to America’s electoral system due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He outlined his efforts in an April 5, 2020, article in The Atlantic, in which he advocated for the dramatic expansion of no-excuse mail-in balloting. He argued that all postage must be free, ballots that arrive well after election day must be counted, scrutiny of signatures to verify the legitimacy of ballots must be reduced, and that “ballot harvesting,” a process in which third parties drive around collecting voters’ ballots and then delivering them to polling stations (a practice often criticized for its vulnerability to electoral malfeasance) must be legalized and expanded. And thanks to COVID-19, Elias got his wish.
So, why is Ezra Reese listed as the “owner” of Demand Justice? Well, as a partner at the Elias Law Group, Reese is one of Marc Elias’s top lieutenants. (Recall that Reese worked under Elias as far back as the Al Franken recount battle.) Meanwhile, Marc Elias works closely with Arabella Advisors, the “parent company” to Demand Justice.
So now, let’s take a closer look at Arabella. It is a for-profit consultancy which manages four nonprofits: The New Venture Fund, the Hopewell Fund, the Windward Fund and the Sixteen Thirty Fund. These four groups collected a combined revenue of $1.67 billion in 2020, and dolled out $896 million in grants to politically active left-wing organizations.
This makes Arabella one of the key funding networks for liberal politicians and policy agendas. The key to its success lies with its “tree branch” structure of nonprofits. This has allowed the consultancy to spawn over three hundred “pop-up” groups, like Demand Justice, that promulgate a left-leaning bias into a range of issues such as net neutrality, free speech, abortion access, Obamacare, and attacking conservative judicial nominees. These groups are also active in funding pro-Democratic Party advertisements during election seasons, as well as influencing the 2021-2022 redistricting process.
Here’s one example of how Arabella’s “dark money” can significantly impact American politics. In 2020, Marc Elias—who has become the DNC’s go-to lawyer for so-called “voting rights” litigation—filed a range of lawsuits seeking to loosen voting regulations in several states. But here’s the thing: Elias is not a pro-bono attorney, someone needs to pay him. Thus, Arabella stepped in and utilized a shadowy group that it created a year earlier called the “North Fund,” which operates out of Arabella’s offices in Washington. The North Fund then sponsored the Democracy Docket Action Fund, which is run by Elias himself, and raises money (anonymously) for his ongoing lawsuits on voting rights. Meanwhile, it would appear as though the North Fund is merely an added layer of insulation between Elias and his de facto “clients” who are paying him to change America’s voting laws. Case in point, the North Fund reported $9.3 million in donations in 2019, yet its sole donor was Arabella’s own Sixteen Thirty Fund. In essence, the consultancy is playing a shell game, moving money between its various nonprofits to further obscure the money’s source. That money can wind up anywhere—lawyers, ads, activists, nonprofits, consulting companies, and of course, partisan mercenary groups like Demand Justice.
One of Demand Justice’s projects is an artificial “news” website called Balls and Strikes, which features articles from prominent left-leaning writers regarding the U.S. judicial system.
On the day the news broke that Justice Breyer planned to retire, Balls and Strikes ran an article headlined, “Stephen Breyer, Shamed By Your Tweets, Will Retire From Supreme Court.” The article’s author—whose bio says he has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic—claimed credit for instigating a “gushing fire hydrant of bullying tweets” that led directly to Breyer’s retirement. He also labeled Justice Breyer as a “milquetoast centrist,” and concluded the article with the following sentence: “We wish Stephen Breyer the happiest of retirements, when his alarmingly antiquated, deeply wrong views about the nature of his work will no longer pose an existential threat to basic freedoms, civil rights, and perhaps American democracy itself.”
Yes. You read that correctly. According to Balls and Strikes, Justice Stephen Breyer—a liberal, 83-year-old Supreme Court justice—posed an existential threat to democracy itself.
But I figured it out. Regular people like you and me are not meant to read Balls and Strikes. Its parent, Demand Justice, isn’t meant to sway your opinion—it is meant to sway Breyer’s.
Think about it. Demand Justice’s truck was parked in front of the Supreme Court so that Breyer would see it when he went to work. Then, either he or his staff would ask who sponsored the truck. Within five minutes, they would discover that Demand Justice is a low-level proxy for Arabella Advisors. At that point, a shiver probably ran down Breyer’s spine. He knows full well the power, money and influence behind a group like Arabella. That silly article in Balls and Strikes was a direct message to him. It said, “Retire now, or this will get ugly. Here is a sample of what you will read in mainstream publications if you don’t comply.”
So in essence, it would appear as though a United States Supreme Court justice was told to step down, and so he did. Obviously, I can’t prove that. No one can. That’s the beauty of the system—total deniability. The old days when Vito Corleone needed to bring Luca Brasi in to “make someone an offer they couldn’t refuse” are long gone. These days, when everything is online, invisibility is paramount.
As for Breyer’s replacement, who cares if she’s a Black woman? That’s not going to change anything. The important part is that her name was likely picked over a year ago by wealthy donors who remain anonymous. And someday—many years from now—they will tell her to step down, too.
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Wasn't it strange how news of his retirement leaked out before Breyer's statement? Almost like he had no such plans, but didn't dare show up the White House.
What's the fuss about? Both parties have byzantine networks like this for all manner of political activity. In fact, the democrats' process described here is somewhat amateurish when thrown up against similar republican efforts. This is all above board. Thank Citizen United for this. In fact THIS IS Citizens United at work. And with the Citizens United decision, there is no Dark Money. The fuss, should anyone care to make one, ought to be directed at the Supreme Court's decision to put a bright smiley face on Dark Money in the Citizens United decision.