Nominations, Confirmations, and Departures of Federal Judges 11 Founded in 1982 by law school students, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies describes itself as “a group of conservatives and libertarians” interested in and “dedicated to reforming the current legal order” (Federalist Society 2021). In particular, the Federalist Society claims that it is dedicated to the principle that “the state exists to preserve free- dom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Consti- tution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be” (Federalist Society 2021). To achieve its goals, “the Society has created a conservative and libertarian intellectual network that extends to all levels of the legal community” (Federalist Society 2021). As of January 2021, membership in the Federalist Society had risen to some 65,000 legal professionals and 10,000 students (Federalist Society 2021). Neither a traditional interest group nor a think tank, the Federal- ist Society does not “fit comfortably into any of the social science boxes that students of American politics traditionally use to study the impact of civic groups on law and politics” (Hollis-Brusky 2015, 9). It does not, for example, “lobby Congress, support judicial or political candidates, or offi- cially participate in litigation as amici curiae (though individual members do)” (Hollis-Brusky 2015, 9). Nevertheless, the non-profit organization has succeeded in developing an extensive and influential network of legal professionals with a shared set of conservative and libertarian values and a shared interest in implement- ing those values in their professional activities. “Ties to the society consti- tute a marker of a commitment to the textualist and originalist approaches to legal interpretation that it favors as well as conservative views on legal issues” (Baum and Devins 2018). It did not take long after its establishment for the Federalist Society to become influential in the selection of judges to the federal bench. As law professors Lawrence Baum and Neal Devins explain, during Reagan’s sec- ond term of office, Attorney General Edwin Meese “sought aggressively to advance conservative goals in the judiciary. By hiring staffers on the basis of ideological commitment, Meese sought to groom young conservative lawyers who would later become federal court judges” (Baum and Devins 2018). The nascent Federalist Society “was an important component of this strategy it enabled Meese and others in the administration to identify promising candidates for significant government posts. Meese hired the society’s founders as special assistants and tapped Stephen Markman, who headed the Washington chapter of the Federalist Society, to become the assistant attorney general in charge of judicial selection” (Baum and
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