Introduction to the Federalist Society 2002 Symposium on Law and Truth; Banquet Panel on the Founding of the Federalist Society

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In looking back at the founding of the Federalist Society as a conservative law student organization it is clear that Steve Calabresi, Lee Liberman Otis, and Gary Lawson were the intellectual powerhouses who put together the original symposiums. Spence Abraham and my jobs were to take care of logistics and organization. There are a few funny episodes that happened along the way.

For the most part we all talked through and agreed on everything. However, as we began to institutionalize the Federalist Society the question of what to name the new organization turned out to be an issue we could not easily resolve. The Yale Chapter--much like the small states at the constitutional convention in Philadelphia--insisted that the name be the same one they called themselves: "The Federalist Society" Harvard, perhaps following in the tradition of the Massachusetts Founders, had a different idea. In the late 1970's many of them had already joined forces in the founding of the first conservative law journal--the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. Spence Abraham, who was the founding publisher of the Harvard Journal and also a board member of the new national student organization, felt strongly that the name should be "The Society for Law and Public Policy." Finally after months of debate--mercifully by telephone rather than sequestered in Philadelphia--we reached a grand Federalist compromise. The full legal name of the organization would be "The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy." The first half of the name was the Yale and Chicago student chapters name. The second half of the name came from the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. We've been successful ever since.

Another question that came up at our founding was the adoption of an emblem. In this case everyone quickly resolved that a bust of James Madison should be prominently displayed in our material. After all he was the drafter of the United States Constitution and the great Federalist compromise that established our form of government. He was our hero. So, we commissioned a silhouette portrait of President James Madison. It is the one that you now see on all the Federalist Society brochures. We turned to Judge Bork's son, Charles Bork, who is also a fellow Yalie and quite enterprising. …


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