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Koch Brothers Work to Rig the Courts

Photo by Naomi Brito
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The Koch brothers are branching out – to the judicial branch, that is.

As if they hadn’t done enough to stunt the dreams of working people by bankrolling the efforts behind the Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court case and the drive to defund public services and take away workplace protections, Charles and David Koch are now looking to enshrine their agenda for generations by throwing big bucks to promote the nominations of judges poised to rule in their favor.

Charles Koch is CEO of Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held company in the United States. His brother, David, serves as the company’s executive vice president. Each sibling is worth $61 billion, according to Forbes. They donate heavily to political causes and candidates. In the U.S. Senate, many in the majority look to the Kochs for campaign funding.

Having funded state-based think tanks and advocacy groups that are designed to write and enact anti-worker, anti-regulatory legislation, the brothers’ latest target is the federal judiciary. The goal is to ensure that the federal bench is full of judges who, for the next few decades, will issue rulings that enrich billionaires and CEOs like the Kochs – at the expense of working people.

The Koch brothers have deployed Americans for Prosperity (AFP) – the advocacy organization they founded – and a war chest of nearly $1 million for a single year to promote the nominations and confirmations of judges who will tilt the scales of justice against working people.

AFP played a major role on the ground organizing for Act 10, the Wisconsin law that all but stripped collective bargaining from public service employees in that state, and set the stage for 14 other states pursue similar legislation. Built to counter the organizing might of labor unions, AFP has evolved into a nationwide but state-based network of right-wing activists.

While control of legislatures can change hands at the whim of the electorate, judges enjoy lifetime appointments, and if the Koch brothers succeed in rigging the judiciary against the needs of everyday people, the effects will be felt for generations.

So far, the U.S. Senate has confirmed 29 judges nominated by President Donald Trump; another 55 await confirmation. Trump expects to appoint several new justices to the Supreme Court before his time in the Oval Office is through.

With tens of millions of dollars flowing into the judicial nomination process from Koch-allied groups, the shape of the judiciary hangs in the balance.

From Morning Edition

Listen to the National Public Radio story, “Koch-Funded Group Focuses on Lifetime Appointments of Judges.”