Young Federalist Society members spout 'radical new theories' at 'alarming' gathering: report
A Texas-based gathering of the right-wing legal group the Federalist Society saw members pushing "radical new theories" about election laws — and possibly secession from the United States, reported POLITICO on Friday.
The Federalist Society -- which is best known for training an army of conservative lawyers for jobs on the federal bench, where they have undermined everything from abortion rights to labor laws to the basic ability of the civil service to pass rules -- was long a champion of "judicial restraint," as it was founded in an era when the judiciary was far more liberal than it is today.
Now, wrote, Ian Ward, their gathering for the National Student Symposium in Austin — an event that brought out Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to give a speech, the tables have turned — and it's "alarmingly clear" that attendees are more interested in using judicial power to overrule liberal democracy itself.
"'Democracy is what philosophers call an ‘essentially contested concept,’' said Daniel Lowenstein, a professor of law emeritus at UCLA and an expert in election law, during a panel on Friday evening. 'Differences that seem on their surface to concern the meaning of the word ‘democracy’,' he added, are actually struggles to advance particular and controversial political ideas,'" said the report. "What democracy does not mean, Lowenstein argued, was 'plebiscitary democracy,' or simple rule by democratic majorities. Citing the Federalist Papers — the namesake of the Federalist Society — Lowenstein suggested that governance based on simple mathematical majorities would enable 'tyrannical domination of the minority by the majority.'"
This rhetoric, explicitly rejecting the idea of the U.S. as a democracy, has grown more common in GOP circles, even being pushed by some Republican senators — and it obscures the fact that the U.S. electoral system is in fact the reverse, with the Senate's structure in particular letting a small minority dominate the majority.
Some attendees didn't stop at rejecting democracy, but rejected the idea of the United States as a country.
"Later on in the same panel, Joel Alicea, a law professor at the Catholic University of America, diagnosed the apparent threats facing American democracy today — political violence, abuses of governmental power, and attempted election subversion, to name a few — as symptoms of a deeper malaise," and threw in a jab at transgender rights, saying, “At this point in our society, we can’t even agree whether somebody is a man or a woman.” "Alicea advised the attendees to embrace conversion rather than coercion, but in the question-and-answer session after the panel, an audience member proposed a third option: a full-scale national divorce, of the sort recently proposed by Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia."
In recent years, President Joe Biden has responded to the new flood of Federalist Society affiliated judges former President Donald Trump installed — who recently defeated a proposed ethics rule limiting their affiliation with the group while on the bench — by appointing another wave of more civil-rights oriented jurists in record numbers at a record pace.
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