A who's who of conservative jurisprudence will gather this week to celebrate 25 years of "advancing the rule of law" as the Federalist Society fetes its big anniversary with some very big names: President Bush is set to speak at Thursday's gala dinner at Union Station, and also expected to attend are Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is not set to attend the dinner, but he will give the Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture on Friday evening.
Clearly the Federalists have much to celebrate. A quarter-century after the society held its First National Student Symposium -- where the participants in April 1982 considered "Federalism: Legal and Political Ramifications" -- membership is considered a badge of honor among conservative legal elites, and originalism, the judicial theory embraced by many society members, "is in the game, even if it does not always prevail," Scalia remarks in a new book, "Originalism: A Quarter-Century of Debate," a collection of Federalist Society papers.
Scalia was a participant in that 1982 event, according to a program also published in "Originalism," and those who joined him include many who would become familiar even to laymen in the years to follow: Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork; Solicitors General Charles Fried and Theodore B. Olson; appellate Judge Richard Posner and, in a bit of a surprise, Stephen G. Breyer, who now crosses rhetorical swords with Scalia, Alito and Thomas on the Supreme Court.