WASHINGTON, DC – Senate Democrats are condemning Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s association with the Federalist Society, ignoring the fact that every current Supreme Court justice – including all the liberals – speak at Federalist Society events, and Justice Elena Kagan says, “I love the Federalist Society!”
The Federalist Society is America’s flagship legal organization for conservatives and libertarians, host to legal debates and scholarly forums across the nation. Founded in 1982, it is dedicated to promoting originalism: the mainstream conservative view that because federal judges are unelected – and thus unaccountable to the democratic process – the only legitimate way for them to interpret the Supreme Law of the Land in a democratic form of government is according to the Constitution’s original public meaning.
The organization was founded in 1982, and in 1985 Attorney General Ed Meese – who is a member of its board – gave a speech to the American Bar Association praising originalism as the legal policy of the Reagan administration.
The Federalist Society now boasts almost 70,000 judges, lawyers, and law students among its members. They are found in all areas of the law, including the highest levels of government, the judiciary, academia, and major law firms.
No event better showcases the mainstream nature and the respectable stature of the Federalist Society than the annual convention it held in 2007 on its 25th anniversary. The keynote speaker was the sitting president of the United States, President George W. Bush (hardly a rightwing ideologue). Justice Antonin Scalia also gave remarks at that dinner. The speaker at the Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture – named in honor of the longtime Federalist Society supporter who perished in the terrorist attacks of 9/11 – was the chief justice of the United States, Chief Justice John Roberts.
Speakers at other Federalist Society conventions and events prove further its central place in American law and politics: Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Mike Lee, and Sen. Tom Cotton, to name just a few.
Critically important, every single sitting Supreme Court justice – including every liberal justice – has spoken at Federalist Society events.
It is perhaps not surprising that the list would include Justice Clarence Thomas, who delivered the keynote address in 2016; or Justice Samuel Alito, who spoke in 2007 and gave the keynote in 2012; and Justice Neil Gorsuch, who spoke at an event of the Harvard Law School Students Chapter in 2012, gave the Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture in 2013 while still an appeals judge, and gave the keynote address at the inaugural Antonin Scalia Memorial Dinner in 2017.
But to listen to the leftists vilifying Kavanaugh by portraying the Federalist Society as a shadowy or conspiratorial outfit, many would find it hard to understand why Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would speak at Federalist Society events, as the most liberal member of the Supreme Court has done multiple times.
The same goes for Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Obama-appointed justice who spoke at a 2009 Federalist Society event in Connecticut only months before her confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Likewise, Justice Stephen Breyer, the Clinton-appointed justice, participated in a Federalist Society debate against Justice Scalia in December 2006.
Finally, there is Justice Elena Kagan. The Obama-appointed former dean of Harvard Law School not only attended Federalist Society events, she also declared at one of its banquets in February 2005, “I love the Federalist Society!”
Senate Democrats and outside groups have not yet explained how associating with a mainstream legal organization to which every member of the Supreme Court – including every liberal member – is willing to speak at and associate with somehow disqualifies Brett Kavanaugh from serving on the Supreme Court.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.