CV NEWS FEED // Pro-abortion activists are targeting the Maine home and church of Leonard Leo, a conservative lawyer whose work helped overturn Roe v. Wade.
Last Saturday, over three dozen protesters gathered outside Leo’s house, with one dressed as an “angry uterus.” As the Maine Wire reported, one held a sign “with letters dripping blood red” reading “Leo, You should not be enjoying your life here while you destroy others’ lives. Get out!” Other attendees’ signs called him various epithets from “reproductive terrorist” to “one of the most dangerous men in the United States.”
At last Saturday’s protest outside Leo’s home, there was even a sign that compared the Catholic father of seven to the Ku Klux Klan, the notoriously racist and anti-Catholic organization.
Leo, a practicing Catholic, is the Co-Chairman and former Executive Vice President of the Federalist Society (FedSoc). During several Supreme Court nomination battles, Leo would take a leave of absence from the Federalist Society in order to play an instrumental role in the vetting, nomination, and confirmation processes of several of the justices in the Supreme Court’s 6-3 majority which overturned Roe.
Since the Dobbs decision, Leo’s home has been the site of many pro-abortion demonstrations, where protestors have regularly berated him with anti-Catholic slurs.
“Leo is a fundamentalist Catholic,” stated Harriet Mendlowitz on Facebook. “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.”
Mendlowitz made the above remarks as a part of the Mount Desert Island Indivisible group, a chapter of a left-wing activist organization that bills itself as the “home of the resistance.”
“Do we continue to honor the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all of just a select few that people like Leo deem worthy of protection?” she went on elsewhere, referring to the unborn:
It seems that unnamed fetuses take precedence over grown women with established identities, hopes, dreams and ambitions. And, as if forcing women to carry their unwanted pregnancies to term weren’t enough of an assault on their personal liberty, these religious zealots would deny women the contraception that would make abortions less likely.
Mendlowitz continued by attacking the American flag and images of Jesus and Mary displayed outside of the Leo residence: “Do people who are secure in their beliefs feel the need to flaunt them publicly? More importantly, does this display demonstrate his support for or against the separation of Church and State? His answer seems crystal clear.”
During one such instance last year, a local inn owner Anna Durand went on an expletive-laden rant from a car yelling at Leo, who was with his family, “You’re going to Hell. Your whole family is going to Hell,” she shouted. In the car with her was her adult son, Eli Durand-McDonnell, 24, who followed her with a long rant full of expletives. In an interview with The New Yorker, Durand said that the experience was “so satisfying” and that she “drove away happy.”
Officers from the Bar Harbor Police Department arrested Durand-McDonnell on July 31, 2022, after he shouted at Leo and his family. He was charged with disorderly conduct. Later Hancock County District Attorney Robert Granger dropped the charges, stating that the case was a top priority.
A friend of Leo’s told CatholicVote: “Durand-McDonnell was escalating his hate from threatening his wife and kids to stalking and harassing the family.”
Leo’s Catholicism has also been extensively attacked by the media. The Lever, a far-left news outlet founded by former Bernie Sanders speechwriter David Sirota, ran a hit piece Monday about Leo’s non-profit Sacred Spaces, and his effort to preserve his parish.
The article’s author, Andrew Perez, referred to the lawyer as “the architect of the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority” who “oversees a billion-dollar political influence machine.”
Perez wrote that “Leo’s church purchase appears to be the launch of a broader religious advocacy mission: starting with the exclusive Maine community that’s already enraged by how he’s worked to imprint his conservative religious views on American society.” Perez also noted that the activist outlet unsuccessfully attempted to score an interview with Leo while he was on his way to church on Sunday.
Leo also received the 2022 John Paul II New Evangelization Award, and runs the Sacred Spaces Foundation. The charity helps restore historic religious buildings, including Leo’s home parish, St. Ignatius Church on Mount Desert Island, Maine.
Leo recently noted the historic significance of St. Ignatius Church: “The church commemorates the arrival of the Jesuits who birthed the Catholic Faith in New England on this island in the early 17th century. Its 19th century architecture and stained glass artwork, as well as a stone monument dedicated to the first Jesuit settlers, tell a moving story about the beauty and continuity of the Catholic faith in North America.”
Leo defended his life’s work against the critics’ charges:
This evangelizing work extends to every facet of life, including law, public policy, and politics, which are the areas that I know best. They need light and salt, no less than any other field. And many here have long promoted a legal culture that respects and upholds the dignity of the human person.
This work is an integral part of the new evangelization, insofar as it reflects Catholic teaching, spreads Christ’s message, and helps draw others closer to God and what He wants for us.
A previous version of this article suggested that Harriet Mendlowitz made all of her remarks as part of the Mount Desert Island Indivisible group on Facebook. The article has been edited to reflect that some of her comments were written elsewhere.
A previous version of this article referred to “statues” outside of Leo’s residence. The article has been corrected to refer to “images.” We regret the error.