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Issue of the Week: Supreme Court Sides with Ultra-Conservative Bradley Foundation

Jul. 3, 2014
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Hobby Lobby
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced two stunning—but not surprising—decisions. The five conservative members ruled that some corporations are people with religious beliefs that allow them to discriminate against women and that “semi-public” employees no longer need to contribute to the unions from which they benefit.

The decisions weren’t surprising because the current conservative makeup of the court is one of the most friendly to corporations. It’s also one that seems to be completely out of touch with the real world. After all, with the Citizens United ruling, the majority seemed to be unaware of how campaign contributions can influence an elected official’s actions. The conservative court’s view was that unless there’s overt quid pro quo corruption, then there’s nothing wrong with big, corporate donations to candidates.

Both of Monday’s rulings continue to unravel the post-WWII social compact that had provided a level of social justice and a strong growing economy, but there’s another thing they have in common: both were argued by groups that receive funding from the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, which is led by Scott Walker’s campaign chair, Michael Grebe.

The Hobby Lobby case, which recognizes corporations’ religious beliefs, was argued by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. In 2011 and 2012, Bradley Foundation donated $225,000 to the group. The Illinois home health care workers suit was brought by the anti-labor National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the recipient of $140,000 Bradley Foundation funds in 2011 and 2012.

Bradley also contributed $1 million in 2011 and 2012 to the right-wing Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which sued the state Government Accountability Board to eliminate the state’s aggregate campaign contribution limits, after the U.S. Supreme Court struck them down at the federal level earlier this year.

These donations are relatively small by Bradley Foundation standards, but they are significant when viewed along with the anti-worker, pro-business stealth agenda funded with the more than $600 million in assets at the foundation’s disposal. The foundation has spread its millions to allegedly nonpolitical nonprofit groups that are part of a right-wing network determined to destroy the public sector in the name of “liberty” so that it can impose its own version of liberty—for example, one that allows bosses to have a say in a woman’s contraceptive choices—on the rest of us.

Grebe’s Bradley Foundation has tried to keep a low profile, but its actions as a right-wing ATM make it as much of a target for enhanced scrutiny as the notorious Koch brothers. It’s time to let the sunlight in.


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