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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.

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