Thursday, July 21, 2005

For the Record...

After I had posted about the Federalist Society - at the center of conservative legal thought..., and in the midst of the rumors that Judge Clement was set to be named as the new Associate Justice, I posted this FYI... post, noting that Judge Clement was indeed a member of the Federalist Society.

I had assumed (as did much of the media it appears) that Judge John Roberts was a Federalist Society member as well...but that is not the case.

Federalist Affiliation Misstated
Roberts Does Not Belong to Group

Everyone knows that, like all good Republican lawyers, John G. Roberts Jr. is a member of the Federalist Society, the conservative law and public policy organization where right-of-center types meet to denounce liberalism and angle for jobs in the Bush administration.

And practically everyone -- CNN, the Los Angeles Times, Legal Times and, just yesterday, The Washington Post -- has reported Roberts's membership as a fact. One liberal group opposed to Roberts's nomination, the Alliance for Justice, has noted it on its Web site.

But they are wrong. John Roberts is not, in fact, a member of the Federalist Society, and he says he never has been.
Roberts recalls speaking at Federalist Society forums (as have lawyers and legal scholars of various political stripes). But he has apparently never paid the $50 annual fee that would make him a full-fledged member. His disclosure forms submitted in connection with his 2003 nomination to the D.C. Circuit make no mention of it.
How this urban legend got started is not clear. The issue probably got clouded in part because the Federalist Society's membership is confidential; individual members must decide whether or not to acknowledge their affiliation.
Some conservatives said that a Federalist affiliation, while a definite plus within Bush administration circles, could only provoke hostile questions from Senate Democrats -- so Roberts, in keeping with his low-key approach to conservatism, just steered clear.

(HT: Supreme Court Nomination blog)

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