Are You Now or Have You Ever Been a Member of the Federalist Society?

The Federalist Society kicked off its annual National Lawyers Convention earlier today in Washington, D.C. with a big speech by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who promised a “renewed commitment to constitutional conservatism” from the GOP. Over at The Huffington Post, Amanda Terkel used the occasion as an opportunity to her remind her liberal readers that yes, the influential conservative legal organization was still around, and yes, it was still up to no damn good:

Many people who have heard of the Federalist Society probably first became familiar with the group during the Bush administration, when officials in the Justice Department came under fire for giving special consideration to candidates identified with the conservative legal group—part of the investigations into whether appointees politicized what were supposed to be apolitical programs within the federal government.

Beyond the implications with the Bush administration, the controversy highlighted the Federalist Society's importance in the conservative legal community and the role it plays in identifying future superstars....

"What the Federalist Society does really well, is it identifies that really really right-wing kid at Harvard Law School who is legitimately talented and who will do horrible things to the law but will do it very competently because they're a very talented lawyer," added [Center for American Progress legal analyst Ian] Millhiser.

It’s true that some Federalist Society veterans have gone on to do terrible things to the law, but that’s just as true for liberal lawyers celebrated by the left-wing American Constitution Society. It’s a partisan fantasy to believe that this one organization and its allies have a monopoly on regrettable legal theories. It also ignores—as does Merkel in her article—the fact that Federalist Society events, which make up most of the group’s activities both on and off campus, invariably follow a debate format. Thus you’ll find libertarian or conservative legal scholars squaring off against their liberal colleagues (or against each other, since libertarians and conservatives do share some profound legal differences). That’s an invaluable contribution to the intellectual climate of our law schools and universities, yet it’s routinely ignored whenever critics are complaining about the Federalist Society’s “horrible” success.

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  • ¢||

    Many people who have heard of the Federalist Society probably first became familiar with the group during the Bush administration

    Some say many people are probably ignoramuses. "Federalist Society" has been a darkly intoned infernal name for decades.

    Many people who first hear of The Huffington Post by reading this article will probably mistake it for a high school newspaper.

  • zoltan||

    HuffPo is laughably bad. Their website is a visual monstrosity.

  • The Druge Report||

    If only more political websites were as streamlined and elegant as they were 15 years ago.

  • Jerry||

    HTML 2.0 FTW. Wish Reason would use it.

  • cynical||

    WTF is a Droog report? Is that some nadsat garbage?

  • Cytotoxic||

    This is an awful thing to say. I think it's great when people with special needs can come together and overcome their disabilities.

  • david||

    I went to a Federalist Society discussion about eminent domain, had no clue until now it was partisan!

  • robc||

    Its named after a political party. How the fuck could it not be partisan.

  • ||

    it's the same logic that holds that Americans for Prosperity is a sinister from group for corporate billionares, but the Economic Policy Institute is a non-partisan public interest think tank.

  • Tony||

    What you said, Hazel, is exactly how things are.

  • Chad||

    Externalities!!!

  • Max||

    ARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARF!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ||

    that really really right-wing kid at Harvard Law School who is legitimately talented and who will do horrible things to the law but will do it very competently because they're a very talented lawyer," added [Center for American Progress legal analyst Ian] Millhiser.

    If the C A P thinks it's scary, that's good enough for me.

  • Steve||

    The "Privileges or Immunities Clause" interpretation idea (of applying the Bill of Rights to the states) is intriguing. Any recommendations on a book (i-net sites) which goes into details but a non-lawyer can understand?

  • colson||

    Dunno about sites but you might contact the Federalist Society and see if you can get your hands on a copy of their journal. The journal format for the main topics are also in a multiple-author, debate-style format for the copies that I have and are very generally written without a lot of legalese.

  • Attorney||

    Holy Koch Brothers!

  • ||

    that really really right-wing kid at Harvard Law School who is legitimately talented . . . will do it very competently because they're a very talented lawyer

    Just because they is a talented lawyer doesn't mean they does things better than another.

  • cynical||

    We really need a genderless pronoun, don't we?

  • BakedPenguin||

    "It". And since we're talking about lawyers (or cops), it works.

  • ||

    It doesn't matter that the Federalist Society encourages debate and discussion of the entire political spectrum. If you aren't espousing solely left-wing talking points, you're a partisan hack who is destroying America.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Millhiser explained that moving up in the legal world is a process of resume building -- prestigious clerkships, top-tier law firms and so forth.

    I love credentialism.

  • MJ||

    "What the Federalist Society does really well, is it identifies that really really right-wing kid at Harvard Law School who is legitimately talented and who will do horrible things to the law but will do it very competently because they're a very talented lawyer,"

    Really horrible things like not read more into the law and Constitution then what is written.

  • George Washington||

    Ya! Like article 12 section 86: teh gays should not have teh buttsecks.

  • robc||

    On a related note, is there an Anti-federalist Society? Im pretty sure Patrick Henry is gloating from the grave.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    In fact, this very afternoon, I will be attending a Federalist Society function at which Justice Scalia will be in attendance as the honored guest.

    I have to leave the office early to pick up my hood and robes from the dry cleaners.

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