Law and Disorder Radio

Law and Disorder April 29, 2013


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The Federalist Society: How Conservatives Took the Law Back from Liberals

Has the Department of Justice been taken over by a conservative organization little known to the average citizen? In the recently published book titled The Federalist Society: How Conservatives Took the Law Back from Liberals authored by attorney Michael Avery and Danielle McLaughlin track the movements of a small group of conservative law students and their influence. The Federalist Society has lawyer chapters in every major city in the United States and student chapters in every accredited law school. Members include economic conservatives, social conservatives, Christian conservatives, and libertarians. They all differ with each other on significant issues, but cooperate in advancing a broad conservative agenda.

Attorney Michael Avery:

  • I saw how much power and influence the Federalist Society had during the years George W. Bush was president and at the same time I realized most people don’t know very much about them.
  • They remained under the radar, I thought it was important to tell their story.
  • They came along just at the right time for them, it was really kind of a perfect storm for them. Ronald Reagan was in the White House, you had a general renaissance of conservative thought that was promoted by people like Bill Buckley in the National Review, you had resistance to school integration and forced bussing. So there was a backlash waiting to happen against some of the things that happened in the law.
  • It’s very important to recognize the role Ed Meese played. First he was counselor to the president then he was attorney general, later he became a principle figure at the Heritage Society.
  • Many people are open members of the Federalist Society, others not so much but through a variety of sources I think we’re very confident that the people in that appendix either are members or very close to the society and sometimes I call that list the 100 most powerful people in the country and most of them you never heard of.
  • About half the members that George W. Bush appointed to the Federal Court of Appeals were members of the Federalist Society.
  • This battle over whether the government is able regulate private property has been one of the principle ideological battles of American Constitutional law since the end of the 19th century.
  • They argue that property rights are a natural right that everybody is entitled to.
  • It’s better to tolerate disagreement than to try to be 100 percent correct all the time.

Attorney Danielle McLaughlin:

  • The substantive areas of law that we’re seeing this test cases brought in are very much reflective of the core values of the society. Those are notions of small government in particular small federal government. The idea that the state exists to preserve freedom.
  • Many are involved in public interest law firms who go out and find plaintiffs and challenge regulation at the state level and in many cases have been successful in challenging laws in opposition to their world view all the way up to the Supreme Court.
  • They really worked this very large network that they developed.
  • Olen Foundation says here’s some money go out and build an institution.
  • The Federalist Society today is not handicapped by having to report back or meet short term goals. The conservative funders believed in long term institution building.
  • There are Federalist Society student groups on the campus of every single accredited and some unaccredited law schools. There are lawyer chapters in every single major city. There are affiliated Federalist Society groups outside the country.

Guest – Civil rights lawyer Michael Avery,  professor at Suffolk University Law School and former president of the National Lawyers Guild from 2003 to 2006.

Guest – Co-author and attorney Danielle McLauglin, member of the Litigation and Dispute resolution group.


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The Stalinist Legacy: Its Impact on Twentieth Century World Politics

We go now to hear a presentation by internationally acclaimed Pakistani writer and film maker Tariq Ali during a New York City book launch of his new book The Stalinist Legacy: Its Impact on Twentieth Century World Politics. Karl Marx’s often quoted observation “History weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living” is so true. Even 20 years after the Soviet Union’s collapse, activists are still confronted by the legacy of Stalinism at the same time capitalism has failed millions of working people in the United States and across the world.


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