The Federalist Society: A Quarter-Century of Debate

The Federalist Society will hold its annual National Lawyers Convention here in Washington, D.C. beginning this Thursday. The theme is “Shining City Upon a Hill: American Exceptionalism.”
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Federalist Society, and a gala dinner will take place on Thursday night. President Bush is expected to speak, and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito are expected to attend. Then, on Friday night, Chief Justice Roberts will deliver the Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture.
The Washington Post notes this anniversary by reprinting the program from the Federalist Society’s first National Student Symposium, which was held at Yale Law School in April 1982 (the program is not available on the link but can be found in the book Originalism: A Quarter-Century of Debate). The speakers back then included Robert Bork, Charles Fried, Richard Posner, Antonin Scalia, then a law professor, and Stephen Breyer, then an appeals court judge.
The Post calls Breyer’s appearance “a bit of surprise,” but this only betrays the paper’s misunderstanding of the Federalist Society. Since it’s beginning, this organization has always presented top legal minds from across the political spectrum. The more influential it has become, the better it’s been able to attract first class liberal experts and scholars.
This year, for example, participants include the distinguished liberal law professor Akhil Reed Amar of Yale Law School, Jamie Gorelick, Deputy Attorney General during the Clinton administration, Deborah Greenfield, Associate General Counsel of the AFL-CIO, Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (the leading liberal on our most liberal U.S. appeals court), and Nadine Strossen, former head of the ACLU.
I’ll be attending the Thursday and Friday night events, as well as a number of the Saturday seminars. In addition, I’ll be at a Friday morning breakfast for members of the Stanford Law School chapter. I look forward to meeting some of our readers.
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