pageok
pageok
pageok
Have You Ever Been a Member of the Federalist Society?

I don't think the Senate Judiciary Committee will have to go so far back to find a script for questioning Judge Roberts about his alleged connection to the Federalist Society. This is one issue they're quite good at investigting already. For instance, when Judge Edith Brown Clement was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Senator Leahy asked her the following questions (submitted in writing):

  • Describe the Federalist Society's Advisory Council and your role as a member of it.

  • Describe the Federalist Society activities (including activities of the Advisory Council) in which you have participated as a federal judge.

  • Describe the Federalist Society activities (including activities of the Advisory Council) in which you have participated as a federal judge.

  • Describe the ways in which your membership in the Federalist Society and/or its Advisory Council has influenced your decisions as a judge.

  • Are there any cases or categories of cases in which your membership in the Federalist Society would cause you to recuse yourself?

  • What does it mean to be a member of the Federalist Society as a judge?

  • Do you share a judicial philosophy with the Federalist Society?

  • With what (if any) Federalist Society positions do you disagree?

  • Describe the Federalist Society activities in which you participated as an attorney.

  • Did you consider resigning from the Federalist Society when you became a judge? If not, why not?

And who can forget Senator Dick Durbin's grilling of Viet Dinh over whether he was a member of the Federalist Society and was familiar with the phrase "the Constitution in Exile." Don't worry, Orin, they'll get to the bottom of this.

UPDATE: Let me add a clarification of my own. I am more bemused than alarmed by the line of questioning above — as I am by all the speculation about whether Judge Roberts was ever a Federalist Society member. As Marx observed (and I paraphrase): history repeats itself — first as tragedy, then as farce.

UPDATE: The Federalist Society is not the only group to receive this treatment of late. In March 1998, Senator Leahy noted that Clinton judicial nominee Susan Graber had been grilled about her connection to the ACLU:

At her confirmation hearing, she was interrogated about two briefs that she had filed a number of years ago, in 1982 and 1984, in connection with cases being pursued by the ACLU. She was asked whether she is now or ever has been a member of the ACLU. She was asked whether she personally agreed with a number of positions taken recently by the ACLU. I objected to this line of questioning at the hearing and caution the Senate that we are headed down a road toward an ideological litmus test that does not well serve the Senate, the courts or the American people.

Public_Defender:
The questions seem like a good way to understand the judge's philosophy. As a fairness test, I replaced "Federalist Society" with "ACLU." The questions still seemed fair to this liberal writer.

The nominee is entitled to decline to answer if he wants. Senators are free to use the refusal for or against the nominee. Voters are allowed to judge the senators in the next election.

And don't worry, conservatives. You have the votes. Absent some new bombshell, the dems won't filibuster. Don't be sore winners.
7.25.2005 12:12pm
Anthony Calabrese (mail):
I was a member while in law school. I may have even been a member for a year or two after law school (I forget).

I am not sure exactly what the position of the Federalist Society is on anything, as at least at my law school, it was more of a conservative (which I was then) and libertarian (which I am now) drinking society than an evil organization ploting to take over the world.
7.25.2005 12:17pm
Linds (mail):
Oh, well. There goes my ambitions to be on the Supreme Court!

Linds
(a proud former member of the Federalist Society)
7.25.2005 12:18pm
Linds (mail):
There *go* my ambitions, I guess I should say. Ah, well, if my law school days in the Federalist Society don't get me, then my grammar surely will.
7.25.2005 12:20pm
R C Dean (mail):
What is implied in some of these questions is that the Federalist Society is some kind of subversive, anti-American, or otherwise unsavory organization.

For example, why on earth would membership in this group be cause to recuse yourself from an entire category of cases? To even ask the question implies that membership should be a disqualification from presiding over some group of cases.

Similarly with the question about resigning. The "if not, why not" clearly telegraphs that any decent person would resign, and since, unlike the ACLU, the Federalist Society is not in the business of bringing lawsuits, its not at all clear to me why anyone should be required to resign from a think tank in order to sit on the bench.
7.25.2005 12:41pm
Lee (mail) (www):
Eleanor Clift's latest column states:
Bush managed to find the ultimate in a Washington candidate—a true-blue conservative with an almost total absence of stated ideology. He's been in all the right places, the Reagan and first Bush administrations, a blue-chip corporate law firm, meetings of the ultra-right Federalist Society…

Interesting, isn't it, that believing in the a federalist interpretation of the Constitution makes you "ultra-right" in the eyes of people like Clift.
7.25.2005 12:44pm
Steve:
Please, I beg of you, more discussion about what questions are off limits. Please, more insistence that it's improper to ask about the Federalist Society. Please, help create the impression that there's something to hide, because the Democrats are never going to be able to do it without your help.

Reading Edith Brown Clement's responses to these questions makes it painfully obvious how trivial it is to simply answer them and move on. Please, spawn a fierce debate over whether it's appropriate to ask the questions in the first place, because that's the only way people will even notice.
7.25.2005 12:51pm
Public_Defender:
RC Dean,

I agree that the questions are biased, but so what? Politics is an adversarial process. Your answer to the why-not-recuse question is perfectly fair, but that doesn't mean the question was unfair.
7.25.2005 12:56pm
Hiram Hover (mail) (www):
It's not the crime, it's the coverup--

Yes, some on the left are obsessed with the Federalist Society to the point of thinking that membership in it constitutes a crime. But there are others, less obsessed with the FS per se, who may latch on to this because it furthers the fear that Roberts is the kind of conservative they fear, but has gone out of his way to conceal that identity.

According to the WaPo story, it's not just the White House that has asked for retractions of stories reporting that he belongs/belonged to the FS. Roberts himself asked a WaPo reporter to retract that claim after it appeared in a 2001 story, following his nomination to the circuit court of appeals.
7.25.2005 1:01pm
Cheburashka (mail):
This post seems to alleviate any concerns that the McCarthyism label is being applied unfairly.
7.25.2005 1:27pm
Card carrying member:
All rationalizations aside about what's right to ask or what's fair in politics, these questions about the Federalist Society are part of a campaign to villify it and its members. Senate Democrats have been asking questions fraught with condemnation and making nasty comments for several years. (Durbin's "secret society" crap is the worst.) I could say a lot about what's wrong with it and why it's unfair, but instead I'll just note that they think conservatism is evil and any tactic used to fight it is justified. If you agree with that assessment of conservatives, well, then there's no point in arguing. If you prefer to think of yourself as open-minded and tolerant, then you ought to think long and hard about whether you want to buy into this kind of nastiness.
7.25.2005 1:28pm
NaG (mail):
I wonder how members of the American Constitution Society feel about this issue. Would they like their mere membership in ACS to become a roadblock to their legal career?
7.25.2005 1:31pm
Dem:
I don't agree with the questioning of Viet Dinh, but I do think it's valid to ask a federal judge about his/her membership in an organization like the Federalist Society (or ACS). Both organizations are politicized legal organizations and it is reasonable to ask a nominee to say whether he or she will mantain active membership if confirmed (and why or why not.) In most instances, this won't be an impediment to being confirmed, or a "roadblock to their legal career" (see, e.g., all the federalist society members who have been confirmed as judges). But, given the nature of the Federalist Society and ACS, I think it's fair to make sure that judges aren't going to be overly swayed by their affiliations.
7.25.2005 1:45pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Juan, have some cheese with your whine. If there is nothing to be ashamed of by being a member of the Fed. Society (and indeed I don't think there is) then what's the big deal.

The supposed vilification of the Federalist Society is nothing, nada, compared to the crap said about the ACLU in conservative circles. Yet, I don't see this Juan character writing anything about it. I am sure he will come up with some hacktacular way to distinguish the two, as he did in his truly laughable post about the difference between filibusters and Senatorial holds.

7.25.2005 1:58pm
Public_Defender:
Card Carrying Member:

The easy way to answer an unfair attack is with the truth. As Steve pointed out, it's easy to both answer the questions and to disarm the questioner.

As to the Federalist Society, it's not the monster that some on the Left make it out to be. But it's also not the friendly lunch club that some on the Right claim it is.

To its credit, the organization has become influential. I have read that some conservative judges will only hire clerks who are members. (My advice to liberal law students is to join the FS so you can honestly put it on your resume.) I would be shocked if FS membership were not one of the hiring factor the current administration used when filling attorney jobs.

My impression is that the Right vilifies the ACLU far more than the Left vilifies the FS. The thin-skinned defensiveness of some conservatives to criticism does the Federalist Society a disservice.
7.25.2005 2:02pm
Hans Bader (mail):
Roberts' claim that he didn't recall his affiliation with the Federalist Society seems perfectly plausible to me.

I don't even know whether I'm currently a member of the Federalist Society or not.

Usually, I join it every other year to get continuing legal education credits needed to maintain my bar membership (Federalist Society continuing legal education seminars are open to the general public for a fee, but members get a discount). When I get enough credits, I drop my membership, since it costs $25 annually to be a member.

(Ironically, I once published something for a Federalist Society newsletter when I was NOT a member.)

The Federalist Society is a large provider of continuing legal education, accredited by California, New York, and other states. It is not a secret society or something akin to the Communist Party, which collected intelligence for the east bloc during the Cold War. It's open to the public, and even liberal judges and lawyers speak before its conventions.

So Roberts' membership in the Federalist Society, or lack thereof, is pretty irrelevant, and his lack of knowledge about whether he was a member of it in the past is irrelevant, too.
7.25.2005 2:05pm
Eric:
Arguing the villification of the Federalist Society is analogous to the villification seems flawed in that the ACLU actually takes positions on policy, lobbies for laws, against laws and files civil suits. So people who complain about the ACLU and use membership in the ACLU as a criticism seem to be on much firmer ground than those complaining about the Federalist Society. The Federalist Society is certainly a conservative organization and membership in it is a signal that you're a conservative but it's a lot more like a lunch club than a political group.
7.25.2005 2:33pm
Public_Defender:
Both the ACLU and the Federalist Society are agenda-driven organization. The ACLU is upfront about its goals. The Federalist Society is a much looser organization with members who work more behind the scenes. There's nothing wrong with that, but it makes it easier for critics to (incorrectly) argue that it's some kind of secret society.

Federalist Society members diminish the organization's accomplishments when pull out the "aw shucks, we ain't nothin' but a talkin' club" routine.
7.25.2005 2:40pm
Justin (mail):
The comparison of these questions to the "Red scare" questions goes beyond the rediculous and into the insulting. Those people accused of having ties to the Communist Party were not accused of such to determine their future judicial jurisprudence when they lack a more concrete paper trail. They were outcasted from all civil society, fired from their jobs, often forced into poverty (to the degree that a high school teacher of mine's father died due to his alleged connection after losing his job, home, and insurance), etc.
7.25.2005 3:05pm
Justin (mail):
Eric, the Federalist Society has engrained ties with other organizations, such as the Pacific Legal Foundation, that accomplish the same ends. At least the ACLU's legal defense fund (which is a seperate entity, legally, from the ACLU) has the decency to admit the connection.

But that's really not the question here. Juan Non-Volokh once again has made an outlandish attack based on little fact. I respect his right to post in anonymity, but suggest that if his content was better thought out his anonymity would be less of an issue.
7.25.2005 3:08pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
I have read that some conservative judges will only hire clerks who are members

You may have read that, but I guarantee it's not true.

7.25.2005 3:13pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
When Jeff Sutton, who was then an associate at Jones Day, organized the local chapter of the Federalist Society back around 1987 (give or take a year or two). I joined it. I attended a couple of luncheons with very dull speakers. When they brought Justice Scalia to town, I went to that affair. Scalia gave a very interesting talk. But the rest of the meetings were deadly dull. After a while, I let my membership lapse.

The comparison with ACLU, seems to me to be inapt. ACLU has a very large membership which is not restricted to lawyers. They engage in massive public fund raising. They have attorneys both on their payroll and pro bono who litigate cases for them. They take positions on public issues and engage in lobbying and propaganda.

OTOH, the Federalist Society is, AFAIK, a debating society and lunch club. I don't think membership says anything about you except that you like to dine with dull lawyers.
7.25.2005 3:14pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I agree that the questions are biased, but so what? Politics is an adversarial process. Your answer to the why-not-recuse question is perfectly fair, but that doesn't mean the question was unfair.

It's essentially the equivalent of push polling, so, yes, it's unfair. That observation may occasion a shrug -- we're not exactly discussing kidnapping and beating his wife and kids to dissuade him from pursuing the confirmation -- but that doesn't mean we need to define deviancy down simply because it's "politics." Yes, politics is adversarial. But adversarial doesn't mean "anything goes."

If one wants to make the case that there's something wrong with being a FedSoc member, do so. But don't insinuate it with misleading questions.

As for the posters above who compared liberal treatment of the FedSoc to conservative treatment of the ACLU, (1) conservatives are often over-the-top in their attacks on the ACLU, but (2) the two organizations are not parallel.

The ACLU actively litigates cases, and takes policy positions, and lobbies for those positions; the FedSoc doesn't.


Incidentally, searching on the ACLU's website revealed this:
John Roberts, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, said that denying prisoners the right to vote would be "a huge constitutional setback in the state often referred to as the cradle of liberty."
Ah hah!
7.25.2005 3:16pm
G_G (mail):
Public Defender wrote: "I have read that some conservative judges will only hire clerks who are members. (My advice to liberal law students is to join the FS so you can honestly put it on your resume.) I would be shocked if FS membership were not one of the hiring factor the current administration used when filling attorney jobs. "

I am a member of the Federalists. Last year, during a call back interview for a summer associate position at a big firm, a partner saw the membership listed on my resume and told me that he couldn't stand the group, thought they were hypocrites, and wouldn't hire any members of the FS. Despite my sticking up for the group, the administration has not yet given me a job in lieu of this one.
7.25.2005 3:20pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
engrained ties with

What does that mean? What are "ties"?

Does it just mean that some people are members of both? Because if so, well, sure. So what? They also have "ties" with the Sierra Club, then. (Yes, I'm sure at least one FedSoc member doesn't want to defoliate the planet and club baby seals as a hobby.)

The comparison of these questions to the "Red scare" questions goes beyond the rediculous and into the insulting.

Indeed. The Federalist Society is a group of mostly like-minded lawyers who socialize and put together speaking engagements. The Communist Party was the agent of an enemy government. JNV's point wasn't that the two are similar, but that Democrats are trying to make the FedSoc seem sinister.
7.25.2005 3:29pm
Cheburashka (mail):
The supposed vilification of the Federalist Society is nothing, nada, compared to the crap said about the ACLU in conservative circles. Yet, I don't see this Juan character writing anything about it. I am sure he will come up with some hacktacular way to distinguish the two, as he did in his truly laughable post about the difference between filibusters and Senatorial holds.

The Federalist Society is not akin to the ACLU. The ACLU adopts particular positions and raises money to litigate actual cases in favor of those positions.

The Federalist Society is akin to the ABA, and indeed its activities are very similar, consisting primarily of seminars, publications, forums, conferences, and the like, all marked primarily by disagreement among the speakers, presenters, and attendees.

Does anyone know if the Federalist Society has ever taken an "official" position on any legal issue?
7.25.2005 3:33pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Just a debate and lunch club."

Right - who do you guys think you're kidding?

And as far as the comparisons with McCarthyism and HUAC hearings, it's absolutely ludicrous. People who were brought before the HUAC had their lives utterly destroyed. We're talking about a nominee for the Supreme Court here, and he'll probably be confirmed regardless of how he answers any questions about the FS.

I'm always amazed how conservatives love to poke fun at liberal minorities for assuming the mantle of victimhood, when they themselves pull this stunt with such great sincerity.
7.25.2005 3:44pm
Sean (mail):
If being a member of the Federalist Society is cool, consider me Miles Davis.
7.25.2005 3:52pm
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
Members of subversive, Soviet-funded organizations should have had their lives destroyed. What's wrong with that?
7.25.2005 3:54pm
aslanfan (mail):
I was a member before it was cool, back in 1982. I joined because I support the idea that judges should keep their personal political preferences out of the equation, and that original meaning should have some constraining effect. Alas, it became apparent that many FS members, including some in leadership positions, were more interested in politicizing than de-politicizing the law. If anyone wants to start an organization to de-politicize the law, I'm up for it.
7.25.2005 4:03pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Members of subversive, Soviet-funded organizations should have had their lives destroyed. What's wrong with that?"

Yet another layer of irony: First, a thread that compares questioning re the FS to McCarthyism, the ultimate in victimhood posturing. This, followed by comments actually defending McCarthyism!!

It would be impossible to make a more effective parody of this silliness...
7.25.2005 4:05pm
alkali (mail):
That the ACLU litigates cases and the Federalist Society does not doesn't mean one isn't partisan. It's mostly a tax dodge; if you actually litigate cases you can't be a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt (the ACLU isn't, the FS is).

(Again, not to bash the Federalists; the ACS is the same.)
7.25.2005 4:47pm
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
It should be noted that your reply wasn't an answer.
7.25.2005 4:50pm
Adam (mail) (www):
How hard would it be to say, "Yes, I'm a Federalist, and I believe in limited government and the separation of powers. So?"

It's the administration's apparent refusal to defend what Roberts' views actually are that's odd.
7.25.2005 4:51pm
Hattio (mail):
So, would those who defend the Federalist Society so vigorously against claims that it is anything more than a lunch and debating society be equally willing to defend the ABA??? I am fairly certain (though not positive) that they don't actively litigate cases. They do lobby and hold CLE's and do all the other things that FS does. Would questions regarding membership in the ABA be out of bounds?
7.25.2005 5:33pm
Public_Defender:
I remember an article in which a federal judge said he only hired Federalist Society members. The article was clear that membership is a screening tool among at least some judges. I'm sorry I don't have a link.

Given that there are hundreds of federal judges, there will be a few who use strongly ideological screening tools, including membership in this organization or that. That's not evil. It's just life. When I was looking for jobs, I had different resumes for different employers, partly for this reason.

I also suggest that those who are overly defensive about Democrats attacking the Federalist Society look at Juan's update. He has an attitude that's more persuasive than much of the anti-anti-Federalist Society hand wringing--amusement at the Democratic overreaction rather than outrage at meaningless posturing.

Of course, Judge Roberts will not mimic the more hysterical of the anti-anti-Federalist Society folks. If asked, he will deftly and disarmingly answer the questions. I'm sure this is part of why Bush chose him.
7.25.2005 5:34pm
Cheburashka (mail):
"Just a debate and lunch club."

Right - who do you guys think you're kidding?

And as far as the comparisons with McCarthyism and HUAC hearings, it's absolutely ludicrous. People who were brought before the HUAC had their lives utterly destroyed. We're talking about a nominee for the Supreme Court here, and he'll probably be confirmed regardless of how he answers any questions about the FS.

I'm always amazed how conservatives love to poke fun at liberal minorities for assuming the mantle of victimhood, when they themselves pull this stunt with such great sincerity.


I think you guys are missing the point. The complaint is not that liberals have created a new McCarthyism by demonizing the Federalist Society. The complaint is that they're trying to demonize lawyers for what is, fundamentally, just a debate and lunch club.

Its true that the Federalists have gotten a lot of attention recently. But the suggestion that there's a conspiracy is absurd. The Federalists get a lot of attention because so many of their members have gone on to prestigious jobs. But this is simply because the Federalist Society is a really, really, cool debate and lunch club that the kind of people who go on to prestigious law jobs really enjoy going to and meeting each other at.
7.25.2005 5:38pm
Dem:
"Its true that the Federalists have gotten a lot of attention recently. But the suggestion that there's a conspiracy is absurd. The Federalists get a lot of attention because so many of their members have gone on to prestigious jobs. But this is simply because the Federalist Society is a really, really, cool debate and lunch club that the kind of people who go on to prestigious law jobs really enjoy going to and meeting each other at."

Are you for real? Just because the media lets people repeat false talking points, it doesn't mean it works in a real life discussion.

The Federalist Society's own web site should put this "just a debate and lunch club" crap to rest: "The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies is a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order." http://www.fed-soc.org/ourpurpose.htm

The Federalist Society isn't so influential because it happens to attract really smart people. It's influential because it attracts really smart conservative and libertarian minded people. Does this make the FS an evil organization? No. Does it mean that Federalist Society members shouldn't be confirmed to federal judgeships? Of course not.

But, it is something that is reasonable to ask about, just as it would be reasonable to ask a nominee about their membership in ACS or the ACLU. So long as the questions don't seek to demonize the organization and are aimed at reasonable conflict of interest type concerns, I don't see what the problem is.
7.25.2005 6:21pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
The Federalist Society isn't so influential because it happens to attract really smart people. It's influential because it attracts really smart conservative and libertarian minded people.

In what way is the Federalist Society "influential"? Many of its members are influential, of course.

Does this make the FS an evil organization? No. Does it mean that Federalist Society members shouldn't be confirmed to federal judgeships? Of course not.

Well, you say that, but look at the tone of the questions JNV posted. Are you going to recuse yourself? Did you consider resigning? Why not? All trying to create the impression that there's something wrong with being a member.
7.25.2005 6:46pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
"The Federalist Society's own web site should put this "just a debate and lunch club" crap to rest: "The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies is a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order."

That's what the debates are about. Sheezze.

"a really, really, cool debate and lunch club"

I am not hiring you as a party planner.
7.25.2005 7:25pm
Cheburashka (mail):
re you for real? Just because the media lets people repeat false talking points, it doesn't mean it works in a real life discussion.

The Federalist Society's own web site should put this "just a debate and lunch club" crap to rest: "The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies is a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order." http://www.fed-soc.org/ourpurpose.htm


Yeah, but what do you think that "group of conservatives and libertarians" does when it meets except have lunch and debate whether its better to be libertarian or conservative?

Seriously.
7.25.2005 8:38pm
Cheburashka (mail):
I am not hiring you as a party planner.

Probably a smart move, but who'd want to party with a bunch of lawyers anyway?
7.25.2005 8:39pm
Dem:
"Well, you say that, but look at the tone of the questions JNV posted. Are you going to recuse yourself? Did you consider resigning? Why not? All trying to create the impression that there's something wrong with being a member."

Maintaining membership in an ideological organization like FS or ACS while serving as a federal judge is more problematic than being a member before you're confirmed. There are plenty of limits on what one can do once he/she becomes a judge. We'd all agree that being an active member of the ACLU is ok before confirmation as a judge but not ok after. Active membership in an ideological "debate club" like FS or ACS straddles the line and raises a number questions that past membership does not. The questions do not imply it is wrong to be a member of FS in general, but that there is cause for concern when a judge maintains membership in an ideological organization after being confirmed. (Note to reactionaries: I'm not saying membership in the ACLU is the same as FS or ACS. As noted above, FS and ACS are 501(c)3's that don't file law suits or lobby for legislation. It would clearly be problematic for a judge to maintain membership in a 501(c)4 type non-profit [or give cash to PACs, etc.] and membership in ACS or FS doesn't pose those same problems. But, being in FS or ACS is not as innocent as, say, being a member of your neighborhood garden judging committee either.)

As for this lunch club b.s. Yes, the FS sponsors debates but people become members in order to network with conservative lawyers. People who aren't conservative and want to see the lunch speakers, just go see the speakers. They don't become members. The FS is not a "lunch debate club" that happens to be run by conservatives. It is a conservative legal society that happens to sponsor a lot of lunch debates. Again, there's nothing wrong with that. But, to come on and claim that it's a lunch club that's " akin to the ABA" (as someone said above) is dishonest or delusional. Anyone who went to law school knows what the FS is. It isn't the ABA.
7.25.2005 10:55pm
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
Yeah, but what do you think that "group of conservatives and libertarians" does when it meets except have lunch and debate whether its better to be libertarian or conservative?

That really is all they do. Dunno about anyone else, but I never got a job offer because I was involved with Federalists. Then again, I'm not sure I was a member. I don't think I was.
7.25.2005 11:15pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
"Anyone who went to law school knows what the FS is. It isn't the ABA."

admittedly, I went to law school in the last millenium, but I belong to the ABA, and I have been a member of the Federalist Society. I think the correct punchline to your comment is the Federalist Society is less ideological and less activist.

"Maintaining membership in an ideological organization like FS or ACS while serving as a federal judge is more problematic than being a member before you're confirmed. ... Active membership in an ideological "debate club" like FS or ACS straddles the line and raises a number questions that past membership does not. The questions do not imply it is wrong to be a member of FS in general, but that there is cause for concern when a judge maintains membership in an ideological organization after being confirmed."

I do not believe these assertions. If you have some relevant authority upon which you are basing them, show it. If not, I say you are wrong, even Judges have freedom of association.
7.26.2005 12:24am
Jerome C. Austriaco (mail) (www):
So, would those who defend the Federalist Society so vigorously against claims that it is anything more than a lunch and debating society be equally willing to defend the ABA??? I am fairly certain (though not positive) that they don't actively litigate cases. They do lobby and hold CLE's and do all the other things that FS does. Would questions regarding membership in the ABA be out of bounds?

Hattio, the Federalist Society does not engage in any sort of lobbying at all.
7.26.2005 3:09am
Challenge:
OK, this discussion seems to be going in circles.

It is not so much that Dems will ask about the Federalist Society, it is that they are so dishonest about what it is. They either do not understand what it is, or they're lying to gain political capital. That is what is offensive. It's the misrepresenation going on, not that the topic is verbotten (it shouldn't be).
7.26.2005 8:13am
Justin (mail):
To put to rest this silly debate: it's the networking, stupid. No organization by itself is influential...heck the White House isn't influential without the people in the White House making decisions. What makes the Federalist Society influential is its influential people, and those influential people meeting, sharing ideas, and assisting in each other's career. If you don't think joining the Federalist Society is going to help a smart young conservative go places, then you're nuts. And if that's not influence, what is?
7.26.2005 11:00am
Public_Defender:

It is not so much that Dems will ask about the Federalist Society, it is that they are so dishonest about what it is. They either do not understand what it is, or they're lying to gain political capital. That is what is offensive. It's the misrepresenation going on, not that the topic is verbotten (it shouldn't be).

If by "dishonest" you mean "makes arguments you disagree with," then fine, the Democrats are "dishonest." By that measure, the conservatives who spout the "just-a-lunch-club" balony are also "dishonest."

It be fair, the Federalist Society is a networking organization that's more than a lunch club but less than a shadow government.
7.26.2005 12:31pm
roy solomon (mail):
That was the most polite and civil "grilling" I've ever read. Certainly a lawyer used to oral arguments ought to be able to handle a couple of probing questions. Perhaps the audio would indicate a different tone, but it doesn't seem that way to me.
7.26.2005 12:44pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
"By that measure, the conservatives who spout the "just-a-lunch-club" balony are also "dishonest." "

I take umbrage at this remark
7.26.2005 6:39pm
Richard Riley (mail):
Tax-exemption point above is incorrect. 501(c)(3) organizations such as the Federalist Society ARE permitted to advance their public policy agenda through litigation. Most public interest law firms, such as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, are 501(c)(3) organizations. What 501(c)(3)'s cannot do is participate in electoral campaigns, and they are restricted in the amount of legislative lobbying they can do. 501(c)(4) organizations like the ACLU, on the other hand, can litigate, lobby and politick (with restrictions).
7.26.2005 7:53pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
Reason Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie, said:

"If I'm less than keen on Roberts, though, this much I know for sure: His affiliation with the Federalist Society should in no way be an issue. This is a group that provides a model for enhancing public discourse and having an influence on government and public policy. Liberals and left-wingers—and many conservatives and libertarians, too—would do better to emulate rather than demonize the Federalist Society."
7.27.2005 1:26pm
Anti-Anti-Federalist Society (www):
Nick Gillespie's reasoned analysis of the Federalist Society is an excellent comment. It goes to what being anti-anti-federalist society is about.
7.27.2005 3:03pm