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The Left’s claws and teeth have been bared and bloodied this seminal, shattering year of 2020, tearing into everyone who dares contradict its slavering radicalism as toxic, hateful, racist, and any other canard that might aid it in its cancellation fever. But few of these efforts have been as transparently partisan and power-grabbing as Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s fervid denunciations of the Federalist Society.
The Federalist Society, founded in 1982, is an organization of right-leaning legal professionals and rising professionals. It includes lawyers, law students, judges, elected officials, and law professors (the few right-leaning ones who are permitted by faculties so overrun by left-wing ideologues that they actively and thoroughly discriminate against hiring non-leftists). The Society was established in response to the increasing left-wing bias of the American Bar Association, which has only become more pronounced in the intervening decades. But when it hosts events, the Federalist Society eagerly seeks participants from the Left, so that a spirited exchange of views occurs, rather than an intellectually monochromal pep rally.
The Federalist Society is hardly the “dark” force that Whitehouse described in May 2019, installing judges that are poised to systematically and relentlessly dismantle government agencies.” Unless, that is, you agree with Whitehouse that any disagreement with his personal political or legal views is a darkness needing to be banished and that any restraint on arbitrary and partisan behavior by regulatory agencies is an unconscionable attack on government omnipotence.
Whitehouse’s attack on the Federalist Society is so blinkered as to veer into mendacity. He rages against the fact that one law school dean communicates regularly with the president of the Federalist Society, and that one judge — the esteemed Naomi Rao of the District of Columbia Circuit — retains connections with an organization to which she has belonged since law school. He fumes that big-money donors fund a scholarly center that seeks to rein in some of the most egregious excesses of the administrative state. And he pretends that this pursuit of legal restraint is really a dark, sweaty effort to bring down the modern American government.
His solution to this asserted threat to democracy is transparency and disclosure. But these are odd conclusions and solutions to be put by such a man in such a statement. For in his partisanship, Whitehouse does not stop for a moment to transparently consider or evenhandedly disclose the relationships between left-leaning deans, professors, and judges with leftist donors and influencers. He hasn’t canvassed the country or even made even a cursory effort to disclose what the Left is up to. In his canned shriek of manufactured horror at the spending by those on the right for the advancement of their legal theories, he does not stop to dissect the massive amounts of money that George Soros alone has spent to install far-left district attorneys who have in this riot year demonstrated their hesitation to enforce the law against “mostly peaceful” rioters and arsonists with whom they sympathize.
Nor has Whitehouse, in his call for “transparency in our campaign finance system,” addressed vital and disturbing questions about his own “dark money” connections, including to Arabella Advisors, the deep-pocketed and well-connected left-wing dark-money group. Or even to ponder why his dalliance with court packing is just fine, while others’ efforts to appoint to the bench jurists with whom they agree, through the normal and well-established processes of our republic, are somehow nefarious.
Whitehouse has set out to destroy an organization for the sin of disagreeing with him and for its support of judges, professors, and other legal actors who subscribe to a thoroughly reasoned and wholly reasonable reading of the law and the theory of government. Not content with the fact that 95% of lawyers’ presidential campaign donations this season are going to the Biden campaign, or the Left’s vise grip on the ABA (which should be the neutral and nonpartisan avatar of the whole legal profession), Whitehouse has set out to vilify and destroy the only windswept lighthouse of right-of-center legal thought illuminating a sea otherwise awash in far-left legal activism.
Don’t fear the Federalist Society. Rather, it is Whitehouse’s grim attempt to silence a lonely voice of dissent in the left-leaning legal world that is the “dark” force threatening to systematically and relentlessly dismantle our limited government for a free and unmuzzled people.
Scott Shepard is a fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, deputy director of its Free Enterprise Project, a proud member of the Federalist Society since the mid-1990s, and a former law professor.
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Author: Scott Shepard