The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies

The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies was formed in 1982 as a “conservative legal fellowship” attempting to mold legislation and judicial practice in the United States. The Federalist Society is “a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order. It is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.” It has formed what it terms is a “intellectual network that extends to all levels of the legal community” to reorder “priorities within the legal system to place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law. It also requires restoring the recognition of the importance of these norms among lawyers, judges, and law professors (source).

Several prominent conservatives have been members of the Federalist Society including former Senator and former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Senator Orrin Hatch, Kenneth Starr, Robert Bork (failed Supreme Court nominee), Don Hodel (president of the Christian Coalition), and Linda Chavez. In Michigan, former governor John Engler, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maura Corrigan and four other Michigan Supreme Court Justices are members, and former Michigan Senator Spencer Abraham are members of the organization (source). In 2005, nominee and later Chief Supreme Court Justice John G. Roberts was revealed to be a member of the group).

In 2003, the Federalist Society launched the website NGOWatch.org in collaboration with the American Enterprise Institute to monitor the activities of NGOs in light of what it believes is the undue influence of NGOs on government and corporate policy. Author Naomi Klein has written that NGOWatch.org is part of a larger effort by conservatives to limit the influence of NGOs.

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