February 21, 2024

Maurice Cunningham: Christian Nationalists Attack Newton Teachers Association

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After the Newton teacher strike was settled, some parents decided to sue the union for damages. Just some concerned parents? Not exactly, says Maurice Cunningham, an expert in following the money.

The immediate target is the Newton Teachers Association and if you don’t like them you should still support them because the legal lawsuit’s backers real ambition is to take a chip out of public education on the path to its demise. The Wisconsin attorney representing the parents gives it away.

Daniel Suhr is the attorney who brought the suit. He works for the National Opportunity Project (NOP) of Illinois. It’s one of many right-wing legal shops that try destroy public goods. NOP’s 2022 Form 990 tax return shows it took in over $1.9 million in 2022 after only raising $250,000 in 2021. I have found no donors yet but NOP shares office space and personnel with the Illinois Opportunity Project, which has existed longer and agitates for right-wing policy desires.

Suhr’s Linkedin page describes him as “Legal & Strategic Counsel for Conservatives.” His prior position was with the Liberty Justice Center which is funded by, among many others, extremist billionaire Dick Uihlein. Another donor is Tea Party Patriots. Liberty Justice Center supported Mark Janus in the Supreme Court case that reversed precedent to rule that government workers need not pay union dues. LJC is a partner in the Charles Koch Institute internship program and an associate member of the State Policy Network, one of the “troika” of organizations that have helped make the Koch network such a political powerhouse. There are also ties to the right wing Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, an ardently anti-union funder of right-wing causes.

Suhr is part of the right-wing coterie of legal fronts that bombard the Supreme Court with amicus briefs in anti-labor lawsuits. He wrote an amicus brief in Espinoza v. Montana for the American Federation for Children, Betsy DeVos’s privatization machine.

He started legal life with the Federalist Society. Natch. He is “Advocating America’s first principles at the intersection of law, politics, faith, and public policy.” Natch. He writes for WORLD which “produces sound journalism grounded in facts and biblical truth.” Natch. He has been president of the Federalist Society’s Center for American Rights. As president of the Center he has been featured on the home page of funder the Herzog Foundation which according to Center for Media and Democracy’s Sourcewatch “describes its mission as to ‘catalyze and accelerate the development of quality Christ-centered K-12 education so that families and culture flourish.’” Natch.

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