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The US Supreme Court: The Federalist Society

Rob Gaudet continues the debate about the Federalist Society: "I appreciate Cameron Sawyer's defense of the Federalist Society, and I confess that they brought a good speaker or two, to Stanford Law School during my time. However, we must not forget that the Federalist Society is not merely an open forum for debate, like WAIS. It has an agenda. The website provided by Cameron Sawyer says that the Society "is a group of conservatives and libertarians." Further, the Purpose section of the website says that Society members believe "it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be."

I do not understand how our society would progress if the judiciary were unable to think in normative terms. The question "what should we be" is perhaps the most important one and it is, sadly, purposefully neglected by the Federalist Society whose members, by all appearances, would be happier if we lived in the 18th century".

My comment: The very name Federalist Society indicates that it was inspired by the Federalist Papers of 1787-88. The Federalist Society seems n general to follow the policies of he Federalist Party which emerged from them. In discussions of the US constitution and laws there has been much stress on "original intent", which is the secular equivalent of the exegesis of a biblical text. Usually it is Republicans who accuse judges of creating rather than merely applying the law. Federalism has enjoyed new applications. There are journals devoted to promoting federalism in the world generally, and especially in Europe. Then there is the World Federalist Association, whose summer 2002 newsletter I have in my hand. Whereas American Federalists are conservative, world federalists are often accused of indulging in wooly, liberal wishful thinking

Ronald Hilton - 9/16/02