The Federalist Society has been enormously successful in ‘developing an alternative network to the liberals who dominate law schools,” and the left despises them for this.
Now, critics of the Federalist Society are declaring open war.
According to reportedly proposed new rules of the Committee on Codes of Conduct of the Judicial Conference, judges and law clerks will no longer be permitted to join the Federalist Society. The society is deemed too political.
It’s true that the new rules would also bar membership in the left-leaning American Constitution Society, which was created in the wake of the Federalist Society’s success. But that’s mostly window dressing: We’ll sacrifice the smaller and less influential ACS to weaken the Federalist Society. The ACS is also less important “because liberals already dominate the legal establishment.”
The Wall Street Journal called the targeting of the Federalist Society ”political mischief:”
This is political mischief masked in high-sounding rhetoric. The success of the Federalist Society in developing an alternative network to the liberals who dominate law schools has made it a favorite target of Democrats and the left. A political campaign has been running for months to stigmatize the Federalist Society as too political for judicial participation.
The Codes of Conduct draft offers a patina of balance by linking the Federalist Society with the left-leaning American Constitution Society. But this is false equivalence. The ACS takes positions on issues and judicial nominees and it files amicus briefs. The Federalist Society takes no such positions and in 38 years has never filed an amicus brief to influence a court on a legal controversy. Its main function is educational, and it often invites liberals to debate conservatives.
Most Federalist Society members lean right, but as distinguished appellate litigator Ted Olson wrote in Politico in September, “law school faculties are more monolithically liberal than Federalist Society members are conservative.” The Federalist Society is an alternative to this campus legal conformity. This serves students on the left and right by exposing them to the legal and constitutional views they’ll have to contend with after they graduate.
They’ll use the Codes of Conduct opinion as a cudgel against nominees and perhaps as potential grounds for impeachment against judges. The Codes of Conduct draft also advises law clerks not to join the Federalist Society, which means young lawyers in their formative years may avoid membership to avoid any future damage to their careers.
As Mr. Olson wrote: “Such a rule would not protect the judiciary’s reputation for impartiality; rather it would have the opposite effect. It would forbid members of the federal judiciary from exposing themselves to views about the law outside the left-liberal thinking that continues to dominate much of the legal establishment.”
The Federalist Society advocates “textualism” and “originalism.”
When requested the Federalist Society, offered input when the Trump campaign was compiling a list of potential judicial nominees. The list reassured nervous voters and is sometimes credited with Trump’s victory. The left never liked the Federalist Society, but this made it a certified hate object.
In going after the Federalist Society in this manner, the left seems to be following its usual procedure: Don’t engage in debate; silence.
Chief Justice John Roberts oversees the Judicial Conference and it will be interesting to see if he advises them to knock it off.
Another article on the subject.