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Roberts Listed in Federalist Society '97-98 Directory

Alfred Ross, president of the Institute for Democracy Studies, points to Roberts's name in the Federalist Society directory.
Alfred Ross, president of the Institute for Democracy Studies, points to Roberts's name in the Federalist Society directory. (By Helayne Seidman For The Washington Post)

Roberts is one of 19 steering committee members listed in the directory, which was provided to The Post by Alfred F. Ross, president of the Institute for Democracy Studies in New York, a liberal group that has published reports critical of the society.

Among the others on the list are such prominent conservatives as William Bradford Reynolds, a Justice Department civil rights chief in the Reagan administration; Ethics and Public Policy Center President M. Edward Whelan III; and the late Barbara Olson, who was a Capitol Hill staff member at the time. Her husband, former U.S. solicitor general Theodore B. Olson, is listed as president of the chapter.

Federalist Society Executive Vice President Leonard A. Leo said that either he or another official of the organization recruited Roberts for the committee. Roberts's task was to serve "as a point of contact within the firm to let people know what is going on" with the organization. "It doesn't meet, it doesn't do a whole lot. The only thing we expect of them is to make sure people in the firm know about us," Leo said.

Membership in the sense of paying dues was not required as a condition of inclusion in a listing of the society's leadership, Leo said. He declined to say whether Roberts had ever paid dues, citing a policy of keeping membership information confidential.

Whelan, who has been a member of the Federalist Society but said he had no recollection of his own membership on the steering committee, said the society is tolerant of those who come to its meetings or serve on committees without paying dues.

"John Roberts probably realized pretty quickly he could take part in activities he wanted to" without being current on his dues, Whelan said.

These may seem like fine distinctions, but Roberts has insisted on them. In 2001, after he was nominated by President Bush for the seat he currently holds on the court of appeals, Roberts spoke to Post reporter James V. Grimaldi and asked him to correct an item Grimaldi had written that described Roberts as a member of the Federalist Society. In a subsequent column, Grimaldi wrote that Roberts "is not and never has been a member of the Federalist Society, as previous reported in this column."

Last Wednesday, the day after Bush announced Roberts's nomination, the officials working on the nomination asked the White House press office to call each news organization that had reported Roberts's membership to tell them that he did not recall being a member. Asked yesterday if the White House would have done so knowing about the leadership directory, Perino said "Yes."

Staff writer Michael Powell in New York contributed to this report.

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