John Eastman: A comment on the Federalist Society [with comment by Paul]

I take it that Paul Mirengoff has been given to understand that this morning’s Claremont Institute statement errs insofar as it bears on the Federalist Society’s treatment of John Eastman. Paul comments at the bottom of my post incorporating Claremont’s statement that “earlier this year, Eastman did speak at a [Federalist Society] chapter event at Arizona State University — this despite pressure from the administration there not to allow him to do so. There are forces that hope to muzzle John Eastman. The Federalist Society is not one of them.”

This is John Eastman’s account of the facts bearing on the Federalist Society reflected in the Claremont Institute statement quoted in my post:

1. I was disinvited from the scholars retreat, on the ground that I was no longer a professor. (I had by then been “retired” from Chapman, and had my classes cancelled at CU Boulder, but was still a professor at Boulder.)

2. I was not invited to the Student Leadership Conference in July, where I have been a speaker on the most popular panel for the past 15 years. I had heard through the grapevine that one of the other usual speakers on the panel refused to participate if I was there, but [Federalist Society] leadership assured me that that was not true; rather, they didn’t want me at the conference because my mere presence would have people debating the election issues, which they did not want, as it would detract from the main purpose of the conference, which is to teach incoming student presidents about how to run a chapter.

3. There was a divisive internal discussion whether to bar me from attending the Napa regional leadership meeting in June, and although I was allowed to attend, I sat through several diatribes against me by others in the meeting.

4. I suggested to [Federalist Society President] Eugene Meyer at that meeting that he could not simply leave the dispute unaddressed, as it would fester. I even proposed that the topic of the election be the focus of the annual Rosenkranz debate at the National Lawyers Convention in November. He ultimately declined, but that was not the extent of efforts to provide me a customary speaking role at the convention. The Federalism/Separation of Powers practice group, which I had been heading for 16 years, wanted to have their panel on issues surrounding the non-delegation doctrine, something for which I have been at the forefront for 20 years. More pointedly, the civil rights practice group specifically asked that I be a speaker for the cancel culture topic they wanted for their panel, but that request was refused.

I’ve been told that they just want the dust to settle on the controversy, but some of the more vicious attacks on me have come from Federalist Society leaders like Jeremy Rosen, with no rebuttal opportunity afforded to me. Letting me engage sometime well down the road when the dust settles on this (if it ever settles) is hardly acceptable….

I think we are dealing with one of the most corrupt and dangerous times in our nation’s history. By chance, I have been thrust into a major role on the ramparts; it remains to be seen whether the rupturing dispute can be addressed civilly by organizations that are supposed to be devoted to such discussion—a precondition for the people being able to steer the course of their government through reflection and choice rather than accident and force, to borrow from Federalist No. 1. The American Political Science Association is irretrievably lost as a forum for serious discussion, but hopefully [the Federalist Society] is not. As we said at the conclusion of the statement, we are open to, and indeed welcome, the debate.

I’m sure the Federalist Society will have more to say, perhaps on the record in the name of one of its senior officers. In the meantime, I thought readers would want to have John Eastman’s account of the facts.

UPDATE: I am responsible for the original and current headline of this post. I have altered the original headline and slightly revised my introductory comments to let John Eastman’s account speak for itself without imposing my interpretation of the events recounted. Please note that John has further advised me that the Federalist Society declined demands that his membership in the organization be revoked, or that he be removed from his leadership position on one of the Society’s practice groups.

PAUL ADDS: I hope to bow out of this controversy with the following observations, which are mine alone and not those of anyone associated with the Federalist Society.

1. I think it’s reasonable for a Federalist Society event, which is intended to train incoming student presidents about how to run a chapter, to keep the focus on that training without the risk of the event becoming absorbed in a debate over the 2020 presidential election.

2. I think it’s reasonable for the Federalist Society not to make the topic of the 2020 election the subject of its Rosenkranz debate or any of its other programs. Eastman may be obsessed with that election, but that doesn’t mean the Federalist Society should be.

3. In any case, it’s up to the Federalist Society to decide what topics it will hold programs about. Eastman is not “de-platformed” because this organization chooses not to focus on the 2020 election.

4. The Federalist Society is not Eastman’s platform. I know people who would like to speak at Fed Soc events. Some of them have been loyal members for years, have contributed generously to the group, and have plenty to say about important issues. They don’t get to speak at events whenever it pleases them or as often as they would like.

5. The fact that Eastman spoke at the event at Arizona State shows that the Federalist Society isn’t trying to muzzle him. The group resisted pressure from the university to “cancel” him, as well as pressure to revoke his membership and remove him from leadership positions, as he acknowledges in the update to this post.

6. In his concluding paragraph, Eastman seems to suggest that the future of the Federalist Society as a forum for serious discussion, and even the ability of the American people to steer a course through reflection and choice, depend on him being able to speak about the 2020 election at Federalist Society events. I don’t believe there’s any merit to these suggestions.

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