The Reddess and I are in DC for the Federalist Society's Annual National Lawyer's Convention. It is a cornucopia of legal nerdiness, close to heaven for someone like me. One of the things that the Federalist Society always does is invite speakers with perspectives other than the conservative or libertarian approaches of most of its members. Yesterday afternoon, for example, I attended a discussion of whether the Establishment Clause, given it's history and purpose, is properly understood as a federalism provision. One of the panelists was Marci Hamilton, who I think is fair to characterize as a separationist scholar.
Last night, there was a black tie dinner at Union Station. The President addressed the group, followed by Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito (the Chief is speaking today) and former Attorney General Ed Meese. Karen (who was particularly smokin' last night) and I sat with some lawyers at McCarter & English, a law firm that I work with, and Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby who I suspect will get a piece or two from the proceedings.
Bush spoke about the judicial confirmation process and it certainly does seem to be broken. I do not believe that it is inappropriate for the Senate to reject nominees because of their judicial philosophy but I do wish that it would act with a lighter hand and greater candor. If you don't like Charles Pickering because he is too conservative, then oppose him on that basis. But don't pretend that he is some kind of racist.
Obviously this was a friendly crowd for all of the speakers, but Justice Thomas (who delivered some wonderful remarks about the value of courage) clearly has the heart of this group. Part of it is his own courage and the shameful way in which he was treated, but I think part of it is his own intellectual rigor. In any event, he was greeted like a rock star.