Leonard Anthony Leo was born in 1965 in Northport, New York, and raised in suburban New Jersey. His Italian immigrant grandfather was a vice president of Brooks Brothers, and Leo grew up in a family of practicing Catholics. After his father's early death, Leo's mother remarried, and the family moved to New Jersey. Leo attended Cornell University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1986 and a J.D. degree from Cornell Law School in 1989. During his time at Cornell, he worked as an intern in the office of Senator Orrin Hatch and later clerked for federal judge A. Raymond Randolph of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit​. ## Conservative operative Leo is an American lawyer and [[conservative]] legal activist. He was the longtime vice president of the [[Federalist Society]] and is currently, along with Steven Calabresi, the co-chairman of the organization's board of directors. Leo has been instrumental in building a network of influential conservative legal groups funded mostly by anonymous donors, including The 85 Fund and Concord Fund. He has played a significant role in supporting the nominations of several justices at [[The Supreme Court]], including [[Clarence Thomas]], John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett​. While studying law at Cornell, Leo founded a student chapter of the Federalist Society in 1989 and subsequently went to work for the Society in 1991 in Washington, D.C. He met Clarence Thomas while clerking in the Appeals Court, and the two became close friends. Leo delayed his start at the Federalist Society to assist Thomas in his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Leo served at the Federalist Society in various capacities for more than 25 years​. ## Supreme Court stacker Leo took leaves of absence from the Federalist Society to assist the Bush administration's judicial nomination and confirmation efforts, including the confirmations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court​. In 2017, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin wrote that Leo was "responsible, to a considerable extent, for one-third of the justices on the Supreme Court". The Washington Post later wrote that "few people outside government have more influence over judicial appointments now than Leo​. Leo has played a significant role in the nomination and confirmation of several Supreme Court justices. He worked with [[Senate]] Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to block President [[Barack Obama]]'s replacement appointee, Merrick Garland. After Donald Trump's election, The New York Times described Leo as playing a "critical role" in reshaping the judiciary through Trump's Supreme Court nominees, including Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett​. ## Dark Money darling Leo is known for his role in conservative network building and has been described as the "behind-the-scenes leader of a network of interlocking nonprofits that has raised and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to support conservative judges and causes"​. In 2020, Leo announced that he would be leaving his position as vice president at the Federalist Society to start a new group, CRC Advisors, a conservative political consulting firm. This move was part of his broader effort to build "one of the best-funded and most sophisticated operations in American politics" and to counter what he sees as an increasing leftward tilt in society​. As of 2023, Leo's activism, namely through the Teneo Network, has focused on "culture war" issues, such as "'[[woke]]-ism' in corporations and education, 'one-sided journalism' and 'entertainment that’s really corrupting our youth."