Monday, November 18, 2019

Federalist Society

The Federalist Society in Florida is known as the King & Queen maker... or more accurately, the judge makers, not only here in South Florida but across the state and nationally.  They had their big shindig in Washington, DC last week and over the weekend.  And although the Federalist Society strives to appear non-partisan, everyone knows that it is a deeply conservative organization.  This weekend, some of this speeches were over-the-top partisan, so I wonder how those who are going to these events as a way to launch their judicial careers feel about these speeches.  Here’s a New York Times article about AG Bob Barr’s speech attacking the left:

His forceful defense of the president came after some of Mr. Trump’s allies have in recent weeks accused Mr. Barr of failing to vociferously back the president. Mr. Trump was said to be frustrated that Mr. Barr urged him to release a reconstructed transcript of the July call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine at the center of the impeachment case. The president also wanted Mr. Barr to hold a news conference to say the president had violated no laws, only to have Mr. Barr rebuff the request. Mr. Trump has denied that account.

Speaking for an hour at the upscale Mayflower Hotel a few blocks from the White House, Mr. Barr hit back at the president’s critics on an array of fronts as he argued that Mr. Trump, in his capacity as president, has not overstepped his authority.

While Mr. Barr never uttered the word impeachment, he castigated those he sees as stalling Mr. Trump’s agenda. He defended the president’s right to set policies, steer the country’s diplomatic and military relations and keep executive branch conversations confidential from congressional oversight.

“In waging a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred war against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in shredding norms and undermining the rule of law,” Mr. Barr said.

He noted that opponents labeled themselves “the resistance” immediately after Mr. Trump was elected and accused them of “using every tool and maneuver to sabotage the functioning of the executive branch and his administration.

“Resistance is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power,” Mr. Barr said. He added that it connotes that the government is not legitimate. “This is a very dangerous and indeed incendiary notion.”

Mr. Barr spoke as the second public impeachment hearing wrapped up on Capitol Hill, where Democrats have accused Mr. Trump of abusing the power of his office for personal gain.

Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, testified that she was the target of a smear campaign engineered to get Mr. Trump to remove her; she was recalled from Kiev in the spring. She said that her dismissal from the post put national security at risk by opening the door for Russia to further influence Ukraine, a strategic American ally.


Anonymous said...

It is a danger to our free society and to our need for an independent judiciary that membership in such a partisan organization as the federalist society has become a litmus test for the federal judiciary.

Anonymous said...

Over the top partisan like some recent investitures?

Anonymous said...

Good on Bill. It's about time the GOP stops laying down for the libs.

Anonymous said...

I guess I am getting old but I remember a time, circa, 1965-1980, when just about every Democratic presidential appointee in a non judicial post was a member of the Brookings Institute or the Council On Foreign Relations. Later with Reagan, it was The American Enterprise Institute. So having the Federalist Society as sort of a clearinghouse for judicial appointees is not unusual.

Anonymous said...

There's a big difference between "think tanks" (on both sides) where people work in between administrations and the politically charged Federalist Society that is a litmus test for lifetime appointments.

Robert Kuntz said...

In an era where, sadly, supposedly impartial Supreme Court Justices regularly appear and speak in political settings and interviews, with their personal and political leanings on full display, I think it may be too late to worry about where frankly partisan figures like attorneys general give their speeches.

As for the Fed Soc (and full disclosure, I recently joined), it hasn't got any more power or influence than those making the appointments give it. I think its influence seems disproportionate here in Florida where the governor has been on Team R for the last many years and he has relied on Fed Soc association as a shorthand for vetting certain judicial philosophies. That seems neither surprising nor troubling to me. As they say, elections have consequences and governors -- and presidents -- are allowed to appoint judges who match their philosophies. (Or at least try to do so. Especially where there are lifetime appointments, the certainty and permanence of those compatible views has proven difficult to guarantee.) Every president and governor I can recall, of both parties, has done precisely that.

If Team R is run out of the White House or the governor's mansion and replaced by Team D, Fed Soc will be out of the picture. And what we'll learn then, I'm guessing, is that it's not the existence of litmus tests to which folks REALLY object, but rather that they're just troubled when the paper turns either red or blue, depending on which color jersey they favor wearing.