Roberts Declines to Explain Group Listing

"WASHINGTON — Membership in The Federalist Society, a self-described group of conservative and libertarian lawyers interested in "reforming the current legal order," apparently has raised red flags among some groups questioning Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' (search) history with the organization.

Roberts declined to answer questions Monday from reporters asking why his name was listed in the group's 1997-1998 leadership directory. At that time, Roberts was a partner in a private law firm and was named a member of the steering committee in the group's Washington chapter."

When Roberts was first nominated last week by President Bush to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, several press reports listed him as a member of the group. The White House originally corrected reporters, saying Roberts did not recall ever belonging to the group, founded in 1982 and home to such figures as former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, former George H.W. Bush adviser C. Boyden Gray, former Oklahoma Sen. Frank Keating and Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch.

After meeting Monday with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Roberts demurred when posed the question of how he couldn't remember belonging to the group.

After smiling, but offering no reply, Feinstein interjected for him, saying, "I don't think he wants to take any questions."

"No, no, no thanks," Roberts added."

President Bush had said over and over again that he would appoint judges who "strictly interpret the Constitution and who do NOT legislate from the Bench"

There is nothing about being a member (past or present) of the Federalist Society that violates that mandate.

Federalist Purpose:

" Law schools and the legal profession are currently strongly dominated by a form of orthodox liberal ideology which advocates a centralized and uniform society. While some members of the academic community have dissented from these views, by and large they are taught simultaneously with (and indeed as if they were) the law.

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."

Also read the Federalist website FAQ here.

When you understand what the Federalist Society is, you can see why we need John G. Roberts on the Bench.