‘An elite network of white dudes changing the world.’ -Samantha Bee
Ian Millhiser, a legal policy analyst at the progressive Center for American Progress: noted. The movement simply continues to build up new talent in the off-years.
“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 Millhiser. “And they identify those people, and from the beginning of their career, give them opportunities, help them find those clerkships, help them network.”
The Federalist Society is one of the most powerful and unique organizations in the conservative orbit, describing itself as “a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order.”
Throughout its history, the group, founded in 1982 at Yale Law School, has prided itself on not explicitly taking policy positions on issues but rather creating the conditions in which conservative legal ideas can be debated and thrive. This year, the conference takes place in an environment that is perhaps more amenable to these ideas than at any time in recent years.
[The Federalist SocietyBy Amanda Terkel, HuffPost, 2011]
The Federalist Society will soon have a 5–4 stranglehold on the Supreme Court.
[Slate, Lawrence Baum & Neal Devins]
In appointing a Federalist justice, DT will be sealing a deal between Republican presidents and the conservative legal movement. In effect, that deal began in 1985. Under the leadership of Attorney General Edwin Meese, the Department of Justice in Ronald Reagan’s second term sought aggressively to advance conservative goals in the judiciary. By hiring staffers on the basis of ideological commitment, Meese sought to groom young conservative lawyers who would later become federal court judges. The Federalist Society—established as a law student group in 1982—was an important component of this strategy; it enabled Meese and others in the administration to identify promising candidates for significant government posts. Meese hired the society’s founders as special assistants and tapped Stephen Markman, who headed the Washington chapter of the Federalist Society, to become the assistant attorney general in charge of judicial selection.
Unlike DT’s finalists, Kennedy was not associated with the Federalist Society or the conservative legal movement. His voting record bears this out. Kennedy took moderate to liberal positions on some highly visible issues. He voted to reaffirm Roe v. Wade in 1992 and ruled against Texas’ stringent abortion regulations in 2016.
With the appointment of a new justice, the Republican majority on the court will be composed of justices who have risen through the ranks of the conservative legal movement and who are committed to the ideals of that movement. It will truly be the Federalist Society’s court.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is a Federalist Society member.