The Judicial Crisis Network (initially the Judicial Confirmation Network) was founded in 2005 to promote then-President George W. Bush’s judicial appointees. Critical support for the effort came from Ann Corkery, an attorney, and Robin Arkley II, a wealthy California real estate man. The organization, which is also known as The Concord Fund, focuses on seating right-wing judges on the bench.
The titular head of the JCN is Carrie Severino, who has served as JCN’s chief counsel and policy director since 2010. She is a protegé of Federalist Society board co-chair Leonard Leo, an ultra-conservative Catholic credited with steering the organization. Earlier in her career, Severino served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. A contributing writer for the National Review, she opposes abortion and helped draft legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act.
JCN/CF also lobbied hard for Trump’s three appointments to the Supreme Court, spending more than $25 million total to ensure that Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett would be confirmed, according to CMD and JCN’s public communications. In 2020, the group reportedly spent at least $10 million in ads to support Barrett’s confirmation alone. During Trump’s term in office, it also spent over $800,000 lobbying senators to approve the president’s federal judicial appointees to the lower courts. With the support of lobbying groups like JCN, the former president was able to install a total of 230 federal judges.
According to a 2020 IRS filing, JCN donated approximately $2.1 million to the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) that year, with the group receiving $1.4 million of this in the latter part of the third quarter (between July and September 2020). During that time, as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s health was failing due to cancer, Trump released a new list of possible nominees to the Supreme court should a vacancy open up. RAGA received this large donation on September 16, just two days before Justice Ginsberg died.
JCN has consistently been the largest annual donor to RAGA, contributing a total of $12.7 million to the group since 2014. Since its launch, JCN/CF has given more to RAGA than the next five highest donors combined.
The Judicial Crisis Network/Concord Fund is also closely aligned with The 85 Fund, formerly known as the Judicial Education Project, also known as the Honest Elections Project. Both organizations share staff members (such as Severino) and both have been funded by The Wellspring Committee, a 501(c)4 group Leo raised funds for until it shut down in 2018. Both have also contributed to BH Group, an LLC that Leo once disclosed as his employer and that made a $1 million mystery donation to support Trump’s 2017 inauguration.
January 6, 2021
- The JCN/CF has donated a substantial amount of funding to the Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF), a 501(c)4 “fundraising arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association.” RLDF was behind thousands of robo calls urging Trump supporters to come to the nation’s Capitol to attend the March to Save America and protest the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The Big Lie
- JCN is affiliated with the Judicial Education Project, which, according to reporting by CNBC, has adopted the legal alias The 85 Fund. The fund has campaigned for voting restrictions, invoking some of the same claims about election integrity that Trump did in 2020.
- As of 2020, according to reporting by Documented, JCN was the largest funder of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), whose members have “fanned fears of voter fraud,” according to CMD. It reported that in November 2020, nine Republican state attorneys general joined Missouri’s AG and RAGA head Eric Schmitt in filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court challenging Pennsylvania’s ballot count.