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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Fun with FedSoc

While doing some research, I ran across a couple of articles mentioning the Federalist Society that I thought might entertain others.

The first had me cracking up in public, as it's an intentionally humorous 1991 Yale Law Journal piece titled "How Not to Succeed in Law School," by James D. Gordon III. His author note reads in part:
Professor of Law, Brigham Young University Law School. B.A. 1977, Brigham Young University; J.D. 1980, Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley. Just for the record (in case I am ever nominated for a judicial appointment), I don't believe a word of this Essay. And if I do, I'm only being tentative. And if I'm not, I promise to let my colleagues dissuade me from my position shortly before the Senate confirmation hearings begin. After all, I watched the Bork hearings, too.
Apparently he learned originalism well --
Another organization, the Federalist Society, has appeared at some American law schools and is attempting to return us to that golden age when states were as yet unencumbered by the Bill of Rights. Their organizational efforts have been impeded, however, by the fact that Federalist membership dues must be paid in gold coins, since the Society refuses to recognize paper money as legal tender.

The second is more serious: a 1997 Wake Forest Law Review article, "What Judges Can Do About Legal Professionalism," by the Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court.
Part III explores the relationship of judges to people and organizations in the path of law reform. The American Bar Association (ABA), state and federal judicial*623 conferences, the Federalist Society, academia and the coordinate branches of government bring together people concerned about both the state of law and the practice of law. Each body approaches the discussion with differing priorities, and judges must actively participate in this discussion. [...]

Other organizations devoted to the improvement of the practice of law include Inns of Court and the Federalist Society. The Inns of Court movement was sparked during the 1980s by Chief Justice Warren Burger in an effort to raise the effectiveness and integrity of the bar. To quote Judge Patrick Higginbotham, President of the American Inns of Court, the philosophy on which the Inns are based is "an effort to define and embrace the underlying values of the legal profession--a positive claim that the law is a learned profession. . . . The idea is fundamental change--a return to our core values as servants of the law and officers of the court." The Inns are modeled after the English Inns of Court, and judicial participation is crucial to an Inn's success. The Inn typically is divided into "pupilage teams" that design and present instructive programs on issues concerned with ethics in client representation. In addition to the educational program, an Inn's meeting concludes with a meal so that discussion can continue in a collegial atmosphere. I have found from my own Inn membership that most of us leave the meetings happier about our potential contribution as lawyers.

The Federalist Society is also an organization that has been effective in bringing judges, attorneys, and students together to examine the proper role of lawyers in society. The Federalist Society's mission is to foster debate concerning the most pressing issues in law and government. Without regard to political stripe, judges ought to take advantage of the opportunities this organization creates for examination of the judicial function and the ethics of modern law practice, for the emphasis on debate provides a forum for thoughtful discussion. Judges can make a solid impact in this discussion by weighing in on topics like judicial activism, criminal procedure, civil rights, class action litigation, or the role of the ABA in our system of law.


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