Over the course of the past couple of years, we have heard a lot about the Federalist Society. To those on the right, they have been viewed as somewhat of a blessing, but to those on the left they have been quite the nightmare. What the Federalist Society really is, is a group of conservative and libertarian attorneys which ‘seek both to promote an awareness of [their] principles and to further their application through its activities.’
The group has become very instrumental in providing President Trump with a list of conservative judges to appoint to the courts, and Trump has followed their list almost to a T. Now, however, a group of prominent conservative attorneys and Federalist Society members are standing up to rebuke the Trump administration, claiming, as the New York times puts it, that ‘Trump has undermined the rule of law’.
“It’s important that people from across the political spectrum speak out about the country’s commitment to the rule of law and the core values underlying it — that the criminal justice system should be nonpartisan and independent, that a free press and public criticism should be encouraged and not attacked,”Peter D. Keisler, the former Acting Attorney General of the United States under George W. Bush, told the New York Times. “These are values that might once have been thought so basic and universally accepted that they didn’t need defending, but that’s no longer clearly the case.”
On Tuesday a group of 14 conservative attorneys including Kellyanne Conway’s husband George Conway, as well as former George W. Bush State Department and White House Attorney John B. Billinger III, and even the wife of the Federalist Society’s President, Lori S. Meyer, announced the formation of a new conservative group of lawyers, called ‘Checks and Balances’.
The full ‘Checks and Balances’ mission statement, shared on Twitter by Natasha Bertrand of The Atlantic, reads as follows:
We are a group of attorneys who would traditionally be considered conservative or libertarian. We believe in rule of law, the power of truth, the independence of the criminal justice system, the imperative of individual rights, and the necessity of civil discourse. We believe these principles apply regardless of the party or persons in power. We believe in ‘a government of laws, not of men.’
We believe in the Constitution. We believe in free speech, a free press, separation of powers, and limited government. We have faith in the resiliency of the American experiment. We seek to provide a voice and a network for like-minded attorneys to discuss these ideas, and we hope that they will join with us to stand up for these principles.
Those signing onto the mission statement include attorneys Jonathan H. Adler, Orin S. Kerr, John B. Bellinger III, Marisa C. Maleck, Phillip D. Brady, Lori S. Meyer, George T. Conway III, Paul J. McNulty, Carrie F. Cordero, Alan Charles Raul, Stuart M. Gerson, Tom Ridge, Peter D. Keisler, and Paul Rosenzweig.
“Conservative lawyers are not doing enough to protect constitutional principles that are being undermined by the statements and actions of this president,” Billinger III told the Times.
The group was formed by George Conway, an attorney who has often been critical of President Trump despite the fact that his wife, Kellyanne Conway, serves as Counselor to the President in the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.
So many prominent conservative attorneys coming out against the Trump administration may act as a dividing point within the Republican party which last week lost a significant number of Congressional seats in the midterm elections. Could this become a catalyst for a potential in-party rift for the Republicans? Only time will tell.