Federalist Society

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The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, most frequently called simply the Federalist Society, is an organization of conservatives and libertarians seeking reform of the current American legal system[1] in accordance with a textualist and/or originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. The Federalist Society began at Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, and the University of Chicago Law School in 1982 as a student organization that challenged what its members perceived as the orthodox American liberal ideology found in most law schools. The Society asserts that 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."[1]

The Society is a membership organization that features a Student Division, a Lawyers Division, and a Faculty Division. The Society currently has chapters at over 200 United States law schools and claims a membership of over 10,000 law students. The Lawyers Division comprises over 30,000 practicing attorneys (organized as "lawyers chapters" and "practice groups" within the Society's Lawyers Division) in sixty cities.[1] Its headquarters are in Washington, D.C. Through speaking events, lectures, and other activities, the Federalist Society provides a forum for legal experts of opposing views to interact with members of the legal profession, the judiciary, law students, and academics.[1]

Contents

Background

The Society looks to Federalist Paper Number 78[4] for an articulation of the virtue of judicial restraint, as written by Alexander Hamilton: "It can be of no weight to say that the courts, on the pretense of a repugnancy, may substitute their own pleasure to the constitutional intentions of the legislature.... The courts must declare the sense of the law; and if they should be disposed to exercise WILL instead of JUDGMENT, the consequence would equally be the substitution of their pleasure to that of the legislative body."

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