Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies

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The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies[1], founded in 1982, is a "conservative legal fellowship" attempting to mold legislation and judicial practice in the United States.[2]


The organization describes on their web site the intent and the methods used to effect changes in the law:*

  • "The Society is about ideas. We do not lobby for legislation, take policy positions, or sponsor or endorse nominees and candidates for public service. While overall the Society believes in limited government, its members are diverse and often hold conflicting views on a broad range of issues such as tort reform, privacy rights, and criminal justice."
  • "The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies 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.
  • "The Society seeks both to promote an awareness of these principles and to further their application through its activities. This entails reordering 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.
  • "In working to achieve these goals, the Society has created a conservative and libertarian intellectual network that extends to all levels of the legal community."


In July 2005, shortly after being nominated by President Bush to be an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, John G. Roberts Jr. was noted as being a member of the group. The White House has sought to have the major media organizations run corrections stating that Roberts was not a member of the group, but the Washington Post obtained a copy of the Federalist Society Lawyers' Division Leadership Directory, 1997-1998. It lists Roberts as a member of the steering committee of the organization's Washington chapter and includes his firm's address and telephone number. [3]

In November 2004, The Hill reported on "a sophisticated, multipronged plan," being developed by Senate Republicans, "to confirm President Bush's expected nomination to replace ailing Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist." The Federalist Society was given a distinct role in the plan, to "provide substantive arguments for use in Senate and media debates." Much of the communications plan was geared to "deflect liberal efforts to define the nominee." [4]

The Federalist Society and another right-wing group, the American Enterprise Institute, have launched the website NGOWatch.org/NGOwatch.org to expose the funding, operations and agendas of international NGOs, and particularly their alleged efforts to constrain US freedom of action in international affairs and influence the behavior of corporations abroad. [5]


  • The Society is "committed to 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. The Society seeks to promote awareness of these principles and to further their application through its activities."
  • The Society provides a "forum for legal experts of opposing views to interact with members of the legal profession, the judiciary, law students, academics, and the architects of public policy,... [and] has redefined the terms of legal debate.... Overall, the Society's efforts are improving our present and future leaders' understanding of the principles underlying American law."
  • "The Society is a membership organization that features a Student Division, a Lawyers Division, and a newly-established Faculty Division. The Student Division includes more than 5,000 law students at approximately 145 ABA-accredited law schools, including all of the top twenty law schools. The national office provides speakers and other assistance to the chapters in organizing their lectures, debates, and educational activities.
"The Lawyers Division is comprised of over 20,000 legal professionals and others interested in current intellectual and practical developments in the law. It has active chapters in sixty cities, including Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta, Houston, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Indianapolis. Activities include the annual National Lawyers Convention, a Speakers Bureau for organizing lectures and debates, and 15 Practice Groups.
"The Federalist Society established its Faculty Division in early 1999 with a conference that was attended by many of the rising stars in the legal academy. The objective of the Faculty Division is to provide events and other tools to help encourage constructive academic discourse. This encouragement will help foster the growth and development of rigorous traditional legal scholarship.
  • "Finally, the Federalist Society provides opportunities for effective participation in the public policy process. The Society's ongoing programs encourage our members to involve themselves more actively in local, state-wide, and national affairs and to contribute more productively to their communities."


Between 2001 and 2010, the Foundation received $3.25 million from the conservative Bradley Foundation[1].

Publications (with internal links)

  • FAQs
  • ABA Watch
  • Bar Watch Bulletin
  • Class Action Watch
  • Conservative/Libertarian Bibliography
  • Engage: The Journal of the Federalist Society's Practice Groups
  • Hail to the Chief Presidential Survey
  • Journalist's Guide to Legal Experts
  • Pro-Bono activity at the AMLaw 100
  • Pre-law reading list
  • Transcripts
  • White Papers
  • Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture

Board of Directors

Board of Visitors



Lawyers Chapters

Practice Groups

State Courts

International Affairs

Faculty Division

Student Division

Administration and Support Staff

Independent Contractors

Business Advisory Council

Memorable Members


The Federalist Society
1015 18th St., NW
Suite 425
Washington, DC 20036
Group's website: www.fed-soc.org

SourceWatch Resources

External links

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