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The Supremes and the Federalists

Chief Justice John Roberts and three Supreme Court associate justices are headlined this week at the 25th anniversary convention in Washington of the Federalist Society.

The organization was founded in 1982, the second year of the Reagan administration, to counter what backers felt was an increasingly left-wing tilt of the legal profession, law schools, and most importantly, the federal bench. Among its donors was the right-wing Sarah Scaife Foundation, chaired by Richard Mellon Scaife.

Roberts was listed as a member in 1997 and 1998, according to the Washington Post and other publications, but Roberts has declined to talk about it. People for the American Way, a progressive group, lists justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito Jr., as members. Justice Clarence Thomas, who is listed as a "special guest," is not a member.

President Bush, who appointed Roberts and Alito to the court, is scheduled to speak at the convention.

Other members include Scalia's son, Eugene; Edwin Meese, President Reagan's attorney general; former Attorney General John Ashcroft; Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff; Kenneth Starr, the former special prosecutor; and Don Hodel, a leader in the Christian Coalition.

Of the four justices, only Thomas has a scheduled speech at the convention. But should any members of the Supreme Court openly associate with any organization that has such a strong ideological agenda, whether it's left or right?

  -- Douglas Turner



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