Activists targeting Federalist Society co-chairman Leonard Leo, including one dressed up in an elaborate ‘angry uterus’ costume, gathered again on Saturday at his home in Northeast Harbor to protest recent Supreme Court decisions and to air a hodgepodge of left-wing political grievances.
More than 40 protesters turned up for the gathering, with many carrying signs that referred disparagingly to Leo’s religious faith and spoke to protesters’ desire to see him run out of Northeast Harbor.
Several messages contained thinly veiled attacks on Leo’s Catholic faith and his affiliation with well-known Catholic organizations.
One instance of sidewalk chalk graffiti called Leo a “religious zealot” and an “extreme religious Opus Dei member.”
Another banner read “rosaries off ovaries,” with some of the letters stylized after Nazi SS insignia.
Another sign, with letters dripping blood red, read “Leo, You should not be enjoying your life here while you destroy others’ lives. Get out!”
One woman held a sign accusing Leo of funding “reproductive terrorism,” while another man held a sign similar alleging that “reproductive terrorism funds Leo.”
Another sign alleged that Leo was “one of the most dangerous men in the United States.”
Related social media posts and a website targeting Leo contain even more strident anti-Catholic messaging.
The recently created website currently carries artwork depicting Leo as a member of the Ku Klux Klan setting a cross on fire.
Perhaps unbeknownst to the artist, the last time cross-burnings were common in Maine was when the Klan was using acts of terrorism to scare Catholic immigrants into leaving the state during the 1920s.
Members of MDI Indivisible, a private Facebook group that has helped stoke the protests, also published attacks on Leo’s Catholicism.
“Leo is a fundamentalist Catholic,” wrote group member Harriet Mendlowitz. “His extreme, reactionary views inform his relentless, theocratically-based drive to pack the courts with like-minded judges who willfully and disingenuously deny an ever-changing and evolving world.”
Other examples of extreme rhetoric associated Leo with rape, while one activist scrawled in chalk the word “predator” at the mouth of his driveway.
“Can you tell me about your uterus,” an unnamed camerawoman asks of an elderly woman dressed in a red foam uterus costume.
“I’m an angry uterus,” the costumed woman says. “I’m really mad because Leonard Leo has inserted himself, and that is not okay.”
“Isn’t that called rape,” an off-camera voice asks, to which uterus-clad woman nods dramatically.
Some protesters held signs blaring messages that were simply false, such as the claim that the overturning of Roe v. Wade “criminalized miscarriages” or banned birth control.
Although Leo has been a resident of Northeast Harbor for several years, he has only drawn the anger of liberal protesters since the Supreme Court overturned Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Left-wing agitators have connected Leo to Supreme Court rulings they don’t like because of his publicized role in advising former Republican President Donald Trump on which American jurists to nominate for Supreme Court vacancies, as well as his connections with influential conservative organizations.
The Dobbs decision didn’t ban abortion, birth control, or criminalize miscarriages. Instead, it placed decisions over abortion laws at the state level, where state legislatures across the country have since enacted various abortion regulations in accordance with state-level political dynamics.
In Maine, the Dobbs decision, ironically, helped secure passage of one of the most permissive abortion laws ever enacted in the history of western civilization.
Videos and photographs taken by protesters Saturday appeared to show several out-of-state license plates, suggesting many those protesting are not year round residents.
Other signs at the protest bore more confused messages, such as one that accused Leo of “playing marbles with our lives.”
Some of the protesters carried fishing reels and printed out pictures of fish and Supreme Court justices — an apparent reference to the liberal belief, based on reporting from the ProPublica website, that a fishing trip Leo helped organize with billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer and Justice Samuel Alito resulted in favorable rulings from Alito in cases involving Singer’s business interests.
Justice Alito responded to the allegations and innuendo in the ProPublica report with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
In his response, Alito said he was never aware of Singer’s connection to parties with matters before the court and that even if he was, he would not have been required to recuse himself from those cases under federal rules on the books at the time.
He also said that multiple members of his staff check cases to see whether his recusal is required.
Alito also pointed out that receiving “hospitality” was not a required disclosure at the time of the fishing trip.
Nonetheless, the idea that a Supreme Court justice voted “yea” in cases when he otherwise would have voted “nay” solely because of a fishing trip has remained remarkably stubborn in the liberal imagination, as evidenced by the wader-wearing fisherwomen protesting in Northeast Harbor.
While Maine has seen its fair share of political protests over the years, including protests targeting conservative politicians, the demonstrations in Northeast Harbor are distinct in how they’ve targeted a private citizen at his home and invoked his religious beliefs.
So far, few political leaders in Maine have spoken out in Leo’s defense or condemned that attacks on his Catholicism.
The latest protest followed the filing on Thursday of a lawsuit against two police officers from the Bar Harbor Police Department and the Mount Desert Police Department.
Eli Durand-McDonnell, who joined some protests at Leo’s house last year, was arrested for disorderly conduct after he screamed obscenities at Leo, his wife, and their 11-year-old daughter as they walked down Main Street.
Durand-McDonnell is alleging that he was wrongfully arrested for engaging in political protest.
He’s asking for $150,000 in damages from the police departments.