Denizens of the left-wing fever swamp are terribly upset that John Roberts does not recall whether or not he has ever been a member of the Federalist Society. Take, for example, this letter to the editor in today's Los Angeles Times, from John Schmidhauser, a Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Southern California:
Roberts' responses to questions about his membership in the Federalist
Society suggest that he is a willing participant in [a deliberate effort to
thwart the constitutionally ordained advise-and-consent authority of the
Senate]. So let us take his memory loss at face value. Because the judge cannot
remember whether he joined the Federalists, a secret society considered an
absolute necessity for Republican judicial nominees, would any member of the
Senate willingly confirm a 50-year-old early victim of a degenerative mental
condition? By his own admission, Roberts is clearly not qualified to be a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Hmmm. Where to begin? The Federalists are a "secret society?" Visit the Society's web site and decide for yourself whether that is so. (Hint: It is not.) What is always interesting about such statements is that people like Professor Schmidhauser, presumably an intelligent, well-educated man with much experience in critical thinking, actually believe them. A lesson for us all.
Laying aside the snide and gratuitous dig at Roberts' memory and mental condition, I will confess here and now that I do not now belong to the Federalist Society, but I do not recall whether or not I was once a member. I might have been. Like many lawyers, I have belonged to many associations over the years, some professional, some community-based, some religious, some political. I don't keep records of such things. I get a Federalist Society electronic newsletter, so I must have authorized the Society to send that to me. But I'm pretty sure I am not a member. I am not sure that I have never been a member. I am also pretty sure my mental condition is sound (although my kids may sometimes disagree with me on that assessment.)
But why does it matter? Among the purposes of the Federalist Society listed on the group's web site is the following:
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.
"It is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be." That sounds like a quotation from a George W. Bush campaign speech. I don't know why Professor Schmidhauser finds such ideas so nefarious, but American voters don't agree with him. They turned out in sufficient numbers to elect Bush, who campaigned on the principles for which the Federalist Society stands.
UPDATE For more information on the Federalist Society, look at this Power Line post.