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The US Supreme Court: The Federalist Society

To me the Federalist Society was just a name. Now we are getting an education about it. John Heelan writes: "Perhaps you might find interesting the following report published by Ralph G Neas, President 'People for the American Way Foundation'. It suggests that not only is the Administration infiltrated by members of the Federalist Society- count the number of members in senior ranks. It gives another perspective on the alleged Constitutionality of legality of unilateral pre-emptive action against Iraq. Also the report alleges that the Administration has a strategy of inserting such political affiliations into the ranks of circuit appeal courts. Is not Judge Priscilla Owen a member of the Federalist Society?


The Triumph of Right-Wing Ideology Over Our Constitution and Laws

Appendix A The Right Wing Dream Team at the Department of Justice: Some of the Players

Many high-level political positions within the Justice Department, addition to John Ashcroft himself, have been filled with ideological warriors from the far right, including many members of the Federalist Society, a legal group with a mission to "transform" American law by rolling back decades of Supreme Court precedents. Some of the members of the team:

Solicitor General -- Theodore Olson Olson, the lawyer who argued on Bush's behalf before the Supreme Court last fall, was, until April, a member of the Federalist Society's Board of Visitors and one of the nation's premier legal advocates for a variety of right-wing causes. Olson represented Reagan during the Iran- Contra hearings and is a close friend and associate of Ken Starr. During Olson's confirmation hearings, questions rose about his role in the American Spectator's anti-Clinton activities and in Olson's truthfulness in answering questions.

Deputy Attorney General -- Larry Thompson: Thompson, also a member of the Federalist Society, served as an adviser and witness for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his Senate confirmation hearings. For nine years, Thompson was on the board of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, one of a network of legal organizations pushing a far-right agenda in the courts.

Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy -- Viet Dinh Dinh, a professor at Georgetown Law Center, is the point man for judicial selection in the Justice Department and a key architect of the administration's legal policies. Dinh, who worked on the Whitewater investigation, is also a member of the Federalist Society who has been described by a colleague as a "conservative hotshot." During the aftermath of the presidential election in Florida, Dinh was a visible commentator defending the actions of Republican party officials.

Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources Thomas L. Sansonetti : Sansonetti is a Federalist Society member who has been a lobbyist for coal mining operations and other industries seeking access to public lands. He served in the Interior Department under Secretary Don Hodel (former president of the Christian Coalition) and as Legislative Director for then Congressman Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., now a U.S. Senator. He is still listed as a member of the Defenders of Property Rights Lawyers Network.

Principal Deputy Solicitor General -- Paul Clement: Clement is a Federalist Society member and former chief counsel for the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Federalism and Property Rights chaired by then-Senator Ashcroft. Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights -- J. Michael Wiggins. Wiggins was formerly an associate at Kilpatrick Stockton, L.L.P. in Atlanta. He was also Vice Chairman of the Federalist Society Intellectual Property group and served on the Executive Board of the Atlanta Lawyers Chapter.

Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division --William H. Jordan: Jordan is the former president of the Atlanta chapter of the Federalist Society and was the Publications Vice Chairman for the Criminal Law and Procedure Practice Group for the national Federalist Society.

Counsel to Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division -- David E. Nahmias: Nahmias is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and was a member of the Federalist Society's Atlanta chapter.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division -- John G. Malcolm: John G. Malcolm is a former Assistant United States Attorney and also served with the Office of Independent Counsel as Associate Independent Counsel in Washington, D.C. Malcolm was formerly the Chairman-Elect of the Federalist Society's Criminal Law Practice Group.

Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention --J. Robert Flores

Flores was the vice president and senior counsel for the National Law Center for Children and Families, a lobbying group that strongly supported Child Online Protection Act (COPA), an Internet censorship bill that has since been overturned in federal court and is now before the Supreme Court. Flores worked in the Justice Department under the first Bush administration and the Clinton administration, from 1989 to 1997, serving in the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Criminal Division. In 1997, Flores joined former Attorney General Edwin Meese and eleven right-wing "pro-family" groups to protest what they claim was a drop in obscenity prosecutions under President Clinton.

Staff Attorney, DOJ Voting Rights Section -- Hans A. von Spakovsky: Von Spakovsky, former vice-chairman of the Fulton County (GA) Registration and Election Board, told a Georgia newspaper that the departure of nine Republican lawyers from the Atlanta area had reduced the ranks of Atlanta's Federalist Society.

My comment: This exchange surprises me. It is relevant to WAIS only in so far as it has become an international issue and may affect US foreign policy. I do not take sides, but I think well of John Ashcroft and Priscilla Owen.

Ronald Hilton - 9/14/02