The Dark Money Behind KBJ Attacks Is Coming for Public SchoolsRoundup
tags: Supreme Court, culture war, teaching history, critical race theory, Dark Money, Ketanji Brown Jackson
Alyssa Bowen received her Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 2021. She is currently a researcher for the progressive watchdog group True North Research where she tracks and writes about dark money in U.S. politics.
Right-wing groups spent untold millions from undisclosed sources to oppose now-confirmed Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearings in late March and April, despite Jackson being moderate enough to earn the backing of a police union and prominent GOP legal figures.
Jane Mayer’s The New Yorker exposé recently uncovered the role of the little-known dark money organization, American Accountability Foundation (AAF), in attacking Judge Jackson and other Biden nominees. AAF appears to be an offshoot of the Conservative Partnership Institute — another dark money organization that has received money from major right-wing sources, like the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, as well as from Bradley board member and Trump apologist Cleta Mitchell. AAF took credit for starting the absurd and much debunked lie that Judge Jackson is soft on sentencing sex crime offenders. This claim was subsequently promoted widely by other right-wing dark money groups.
Another bizarre avenue of attack from Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) — fueled and amplified by dark money groups, like the “Independent Women’s Forum” (IWF) and Heritage Foundation, which have also received funding from the Bradley Foundation — accused Judge Jackson of bringing critical race theory (CRT) to the Supreme Court. The senators baselessly claimed she would employ it in her legal decisions and insinuated that she promoted it because she was a board member of a private school that supposedly taught CRT. (Judge Jackson testified that she has had no say in the school’s curriculum.)
Critical race theory, a legal theory analyzing the way historic racism has come to bear on our laws and legal structures, was little known outside of academic circles until early 2021. Since then, right-wing operatives and dark money organizations that take in money from anonymous ultra-wealthy donors have weaponized CRT as a boogeyman to oppose the teaching of race and racism, as well as diverse representations of gender and sexuality.
These attacks are likely a preview of the desperate and hate-filled messaging that right-wing politicians and media will employ to try to gain advantage in November’s midterm elections. They also highlight the expanding influence of a small number of elites using dark money to impose their narrow views on others and to control how Americans think and what they learn in school — from kindergarten to law school.
In many ways, the anti-CRT attacks against Judge Jackson during her Supreme Court confirmation hearing are unsurprising. They are a product of a longstanding effort by elite families and individuals to control what is taught in law schools across the country, as well as in K-12 schools and higher education.
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