A Word From The Federalist Society

By: Alan Carrillo, 3L
Staff Writer

“Conservatism.” For many, the word only evokes images of red “Make America Great Again” caps at best or fiery Tiki torches at worst. For too long, the name of the political theory of prudence and tradition conceived by Edmund Burke, sculpted by Russell Kirk, and popularized by William F. Buckley has been appropriated by pundits to push reactive and radical ideologies that are anything but conservative.

We, the Federalist Society, are conservatives and libertarians. But we are not angry about it. We seek to be known by what we are for, not merely by what we are against. We are focused on jurisprudence, not politics. We promote individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law. We are founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is the province and the duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be. We value the freedom to speak, the duty to do so civilly, and the privilege to do so winsomely.

This year, we are promoting the awareness and application of these principles through our series, “‘Fortify the Rights’: A Federalist Defense of the First Ten Amendments.” We are hosting nationally renowned speakers to discuss and debate themes in the Bill of Rights. The theme and title of our series honor James Madison, whose silhouette is featured in our logo. On June 8, 1789, Madison, the author of the Constitution, introduced his Bill of Rights to the First Congress, stating he believed the American people’s confidence in the Constitution would be obtained “in proportion as we fortify the rights of the people against the encroachments of the government.” It is in the spirit of Madison the Federalist that we seek to “fortify the rights” and restore faith in the Constitution at this time, at this place.

While the Federalist Society is first and foremost a professional network for our members, our goals exceed those of merely promoting our message and growing our membership. In our nation’s toxic political climate and vitriolic public square, we need civil discourse now more than ever. Washington and Lee School of Law’s community and culture are prime catalysts for modeling on our campus the discourse our country needs. I think the fact that our friends in the American Constitution Society promoted and attended our First Amendment event, and held an event to engage the ideas presented at ours, proves this. Despite our ideological differences, we can together seek the good of society. But this joint work begins with trust, respect, and engagement.

If this resonates with your values and vision, please join us. Our work—understanding our past to steward our future—has begun. I invite you to be part of it.

Alan Carrillo ‘18L serves as President of the Washington and Lee Federalist Society. Follow @FedSocWLU on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for membership information and event announcements.

Categories: Columns