Federalist Society

Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies
A black cameo
The society logo is a silhouette of Founding Father and 4th President James Madison
Formation1982
TypeLegal
Legal status501(c)(3) nonprofit
Purpose"It is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be."[1]
Location
Coordinates38°54′04″N 77°02′28″W / 38.901°N 77.0412°W / 38.901; -77.0412
Membership
70,000[2]
President
Eugene B. Meyer[1]
Budget
Revenue: $20,415,064
Expenses: $18,233,577
(FYE September 2017)[3]
WebsiteFedSoc.org

The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, most frequently called the Federalist Society, is an organization of conservatives and libertarians that advocates for a textualist and originalist interpretation of the United States Constitution. It features a student division, a lawyers division, and a faculty division. The society currently has chapters at more than 200 United States law schools. The lawyers division comprises more than 70,000 practicing attorneys (organized as "lawyers chapters" and "practice groups" within the division) in ninety cities.[2] The society is headquartered in Washington, D.C. Through speaking events, lectures, and other activities, it provides a forum for legal experts of opposing views to interact with members of the legal profession, the judiciary, and the legal academy.[4] It is one of the United States' most influential legal organizations.[5][6]

The Federalist Society was founded in 1982 by a group of students from the Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, and University of Chicago Law School who wanted to challenge the liberal or left-wing ideology that they perceived to dominate most elite American law schools and universities. The organization's ideals include "checking federal power, protecting individual liberty and interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning",[2] and it plays a central role in networking and mentoring young conservative lawyers.[7] According to Amanda Hollis-Brusky, the author of Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution, the Federalist Society "has evolved into the de facto gatekeeper for right-of-center lawyers aspiring to government jobs and federal judgeships under Republican presidents."[5] According to William & Mary Law School professor Neil Devins and Ohio State University professor Lawrence Baum, the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush "aimed to nominate conservative judges, and membership in the Federalist Society was a proxy for adherence to conservative ideology."[8] The Federalist Society has played a key role in suggesting judicial nominees to President Donald Trump; it vetted President Trump's list of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees and, as of March 2020, 43 out of 51 of President Trump's appellate court nominees were current or former members of the society.[9]

In January 2019, The Washington Post Magazine wrote that the Federalist Society had reached an "unprecedented peak of power and influence." Of the current nine members of the Supreme Court of the United States, six (Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Amy Coney Barrett) are current or former members of the organization.[2][10] Politico Magazine wrote that the Federalist Society "has become one of the most influential legal organizations in history—not only shaping law students' thinking but changing American society itself by deliberately, diligently shifting the country's judiciary to the right."[11]

  1. ^ a b "Our Purpose". Federalist Society. Archived from the original on 27 September 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Montgomery, David (January 2, 2019). "Conquerors of the Courts". Washington Post Magazine. Archived from the original on 29 January 2019. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies". Nonprofit Explorer. ProPublica. Archived from the original on 2 February 2019. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  4. ^ Rosen, Jeffrey (May 10, 2013). "Packing the Courts". Sunday Book Review. New York Times. Archived from the original on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  5. ^ a b Fletcher, Michael (July 29, 2005). "What the Federalist Society Stands For". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  6. ^ Farrell, Henry (May 17, 2017). "Trump's values are abhorrent to the Federalist Society of conservative lawyers. That doesn't stop them from helping him". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 7 July 2018. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  7. ^ Cite error: The named reference hollis was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  8. ^ Devins, Neal; Baum, Lawrence (2016). "Split Definitive: How Party Polarization Turned the Supreme Court into a Partisan Court". The Supreme Court Review. 2016 (1): 301–365. doi:10.1086/691096. ISSN 0081-9557. S2CID 225087145.
  9. ^ Ruiz, Rebecca R.; Gebeloff, Robert; Eder, Steve; Protess, Ben (2020-03-16). "A Conservative Agenda Unleashed on the Federal Courts". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-09-27.
  10. ^ "'She's been groomed for this moment': Amy Barrett's Supreme Court preparation began early". POLITICO. Retrieved 2020-09-27.
  11. ^ Cite error: The named reference kruse was invoked but never defined (see the help page).