William Baude on Why It's Wrong to Say the Federalist Society "Picks Judges"

FedSoc is a They, not an It

The Federalist Society has been in the news (and in my Twitter feed) a lot lately, as people criticize both things that happened at a national convention last week, and things that have been said and done by a couple of its officials, especially Leonard Leo and Steven Calabresi.

This has led to claims that the Society is in fact a partisan organization because of its supposed role in picking judges, to calls that the organization disavow or denounce various things, and to arguments that members of the society have some moral culpability for what other members of the society do.

I am a member of the Federalist Society, but I don’t see things this way and thought I’d try to explain why. As I see it, the Federalist Society is essentially a network that connects thousands of scholars, students, and lawyers. There is obviously some intellectual valence to that network — it is not a random network — but it’s usually a mistake to discuss the network as a collective noun.

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