The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies is a organization of conservative and right-libertarian lawyers, law students, judges, professors and anyone else who is willing to claim some sort of intellectual credential or status. The organization was founded in 1982 to combat what was viewed as excessive liberal influence in the U.S. judiciary.
Like most conservative organizations, the Federalist Society is very selective in the sorts of liberty it embraces. If the interests of either Big Business or Big Religion are involved why then the Federalist Society is on their side. However if interests are those of a less powerful minority then they are on your own. They should seek help from the ACLU and pray that their legal cases do not come before a judge associated with the Federalist Society.
Members are fond are quoting Federalist Paper Number 78 for an articulation of the virtue of judicial restraint, as written by that arch-statist Alexander Hamilton: "It can be of no weight to say that the courts, on the pretense of a repugnancy, may substitute their own pleasure to the constitutional intentions of the legislature.... The courts must declare the sense of the law; and if they should be disposed to exercise WILL instead of JUDGMENT, the consequence would equally be the substitution of their pleasure to that of the legislative body." Hamilton liked a strong state with a strong executive to impose order on the lower orders and promote the interests of commerce.
The Federalist Society considers James Madison to be its patriarch—hence the use of Madison’s silhouette in the Society’s official logo. Madison is generally credited as the father of the Constitution and became the fourth President of the United States. He also died far too soon to endorse any entity quite as creepy as the Federalist Society.
The Federalist Society mission statement reads, in part:
- [The Federalist Society] is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.
- The Society seeks both to promote an awareness of these principles and to further their application through its activities. This entails reordering priorities within the legal system to place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law. It also requires restoring the recognition of the importance of these norms among lawyers, judges, and law professors.
According to one writer at Salon, "In 1982, Edwin Meese, Rehnquist and other first-generation legal conservatives reached out to law students and encouraged the founding of a new organization: the Federalist Society. Funded generously by Richard Mellon Scaife and patrons, the Federalist Society became a national networking organization that nurtured young conservatives and swiftly became the crucial channel to Supreme Court clerkships and prestigious jobs in the Reagan administration. In 'Closed Chambers,' former clerk Lazarus outlines how Federalist Society clerks formed a self-described "cabal against the libs" to push justices in a rightward direction. Conservative donors like Scaife were encouraged to endow professorships and to fund conferences and training institutes to tutor judges in corporate deregulation and other articles of conservative legal faith." Article Real Americans have to ask themselves the same thing they ask about the neo-conservatives who dragged the USA into an unnecessary and unwinnable war in Iraq, at what point does such an elite conspiracy become un-American? In the case of Federalist Society, when does conservative ideological subversion of judicial neutrality rise to the level of treason?
Notable Former Members
- John G. Roberts Jr. (Bush Nominee to the Supreme Court)
Notable Members (Positions as of June 2004)
- Spencer Abraham (Secretary of Energy)
- Alex Acosta (Deputy Assistant Attorney General)
- John Ashcroft (Attorney General)
- William Barr
- Bradford Berenson (Associate Counsel to the President)
- Robert Bork
- Ralph Boyd (Assistant Attorney General)
- Jay Bybee (Circuit Judge, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 9th C.)
- Linda Chavez
- Michael Chertoff (Assistant Attorney General)
- Jeffrey Clarke (Deputy Assistant Attorney General)
- Paul Clement (Principal Deputy Solicitor General)
- Daniel Collins (Associate Deputy Attorney General)
- R. Ted Cruz (Associate Deputy Attorney General)
- Viet Dinh (Assistant Attorney General)
- John Engler (former Governor of Michigan)
- Noel Francisco (Associate Counsel to the President)
- Sarah Hart (Director, National Institute of Justice)
- Orrin Hatch (Senator)
- Brian Jones (General Counsel, Education Department)
- Brett Kavanaugh (Associate Counsel to the President)
- William Kristol
- Edwin Meese
- Charles Murray (author of The Bell Curve)
- Gale Norton (Secretary of the Interior)
- Ted Olson (Solicitor General)
- William Rehnquist (Chief Justice, U.S. Supreme Court)
- Thomas Sansonetti (Assistant Attorney General)
- Antonin Scalia (Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court)
- Eugene Scalia (Solicitor, Department of Labor)
- Kenneth Starr
- Larry Thompson (Deputy Attorney General)
- Edward Whelan (former Principal Deputy Assitant Attorney General)
- John Yoo (former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel)
Between 1985 and 2002 the major donors to the Federalist Society were:
|Donor||Total Contribution ($)|
|John M. Olin Foundation||3,632,000|
|Sarah Scaife Foundation||2,230,000|
|Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation||2,065,000|
|Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation||504,000|
|Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation||412,000|
|Philip M. McKenna Foundation||175,000|
|Castle Rock Foundation||135,000|
Landay, Jerry (March 2000). The Federalist Society: The Conservative Cabal That's Transforming American Law. Washington Monthly.
Media Transparency. Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. Retrieved June 16, 2004.
People for the American Way. Right Wing Watch: Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. Retrieved June 16, 2004.
The Federalist Society (2001). Our Purpose. Retrieved June 16, 2004.