There is a good reason why the White House is trying so hard to dissociate John Roberts from his Federalist Society affiliation. The Federalist Society has its roots in the College Republicans and derives its membership from them. While I can’t discuss the earlier history of the College Republicans with any authority, I do know this: the members now are enamored of dirty tricks. These people specialize in distraction, deception, and intimidation in order to advance their extremist agenda on the unwary.
I have spent the last seven years of my life working cheek-by-jowl next to members of the Federalist Society and the College Republicans. The Federalist Society is a law school student organization that began in the 1970s, and has “adult” chapters throughout the United States. According to the Washington Post and other news reports, its present secret membership lists contain those at the highest levels of the Bush Administration. (1) The same goes for College Republicans, the college campus organization that feeds into the Federalist Society.
I encountered the Federalists in my role as a member of other campus organizations and as a member of student government. After viewing their objectionable and offensive mode of operation, and suffering the results of their radically destructive and deceptive behavior, I understand why advancement of their members to high government office should concern ethical and honest Americans.
Federal Rule of Evidence 406, Habit; Routine Practice
Evidence of the habit of a person or of the routine practice of an organization, whether corroborated or not and regardless of the presence of eyewitnesses, is relevant to prove that the conduct of the person or organization on a particular occasion was in conformity with the habit or routine practice.
As noted above in this Federal Rule of Evidence, the law allows certain types of evidence into courts to prove a pattern and practice of a person or an organization in order to establish the nature of the organization, and whether a particular incident is part of its normal modus operandi. Here, is my testimony establishing that the College Republicans and the Federalists rely on the routine practice of dirty tricks, deception, distraction, and destruction of others’ property as an integral part of their work. These people represent both the current and future leadership of the Republican Party.
I went to a public university, and then a public law school in the state of Columbia. (An inside joke for law students and lawyers. The state of Columbia is one of the fictional state jurisdictions often used on tests.) Hereby, I state my intent not to defame, slander, or libel any of the specific real living persons whose tactics and strategies I will describe within this article. Accordingly, neither my real name nor the names of the people I discuss will be used, except for public figures. The rest of you know who you are.
In college, in the spring of 2000, in the wake of the protests against the WTO, I became engaged in political activism. I realized that a lot of people were as concerned as I was about the corporate takeover of government. I began to work with an organization I will call the Campus Labor Activists (CLA).
Example #1: First Taste
My first taste of the low and mean tactics of a group called the College Republicans happened while we were having a campus rally in support of mushroom harvesters who had been trying to get union representation for nearly 20 years. The mushroom harvesters never got raises, and the conditions were terrible. They spent 10-12 hours a day hunched over in dark mushroom-growing sheds. If they were injured on the job, well that was just tough cookies! They worked for a company that supplied mushrooms to Pizza Hut, and a nationwide boycott of Pizza Hut had begun on the workers’ behalf.
During the rally, the College Republicans appeared with Pizza Hut mushroom pizzas, and began handing slices of this pizza out to the crowd, loudly mocking the workers while they did it. This clear insensitivity and mean humor shocked me to the core. I thought it was just a few bad apples. I was to learn differently over the course of several years. The College Republicans continued to engage in more dirty tricks and deception.
Example #2: Deception and Distraction
Each year on May 1, International Labor Day, the CLA held a rally in the main school plaza. This year, the College Republicans reserved it ahead of us to hold something they called “Freedom Day”. They refused to yield the time to CLA. On May 1, they came to the plaza, set up a microphone and talked for about 5 minutes, then left. This was simply a spoiler tactic. They had no reason to hold this event other than to keep us from holding ours.
Example #3: Dirty Trick
A new academic year then arrives at the University of Columbia. It’s fall 2000, the field of dreams for political junkies. I was helping with the Green Party Campaign for Ralph Nader, registering voters. When we would step away from our table, the College Republicans would turn our sign around so that no one could see it.
Example #4: Dissimulation
They enrolled in classes, not to learn, but to take notes by which they could report professors with whom they disagreed to a noxious little organization called Campus Watch. Campus-Watch.org is one of the right-wing academic thought-police enforcement units. Students report professors who do not support the neoconservative party line to Campus Watch.
Example #5: Distraction, Intimidation, Property Destruction
David Horowitz, one of Campus Watch’s neoconservative shills, started running ads in college newspapers in 1999 and 2000. These ads made a number of dishonest claims about the Reparations for Blacks campaign. Empathetic and compassionate people, both on and off campus, were concerned about these deceptive ads. At one campus, progressive students took all of the papers and destroyed them. At others, peaceful but raucous protests occurred. This allowed the College Republicans to claim that their First Amendment rights were being abrogated.
When we learned that Horowitz was coming to the University of Columbia, we decided to take a different approach. We held a faculty panel and film event the same night on a different part of the campus. It was well-attended, despite the fact that associates of the College Republicans tore down most of our signs. Two of them came to the event in their suits, and affecting the air of FBI agents, cased the audience and sneered, ate our food, then went back to their lair.
Example #6: Intimidation
At one of my last events at college, I was asked to speak on ways to maintain success at academics while also maintaining a high level of extra-curricular involvement. One of the members of the College Republican board attended, and spent the entire hour looking me up and down in a raw attempt at intimidation.
Example #7: Deception and Dissimulation, Inappropriate Use of Funds
The College Republicans had made several attempts at raiding the student fund treasury. On one occasion, they asked for $11,000 to bring the vice-president of the National Rifle Association to campus to speak. When they were denied all but $2,000, an average award, they said that they were bringing him anyway. When asked how, they said that they had private access to the rest of the funds in a secret account.
I was then most fortunate to be accepted to the public law school in Columbia, a top tier law school, and I thought I would be well rid of these crude, rude dissemblers and cheaters, but NO.
I learned that the Federalist Society maintained a chapter there. I thought that it would be worthwhile to keep an eye on them via a post in student government, to keep them from attempts to raid the student treasury, as they had done at college.
I decided then to become a member of the student council at the University of Columbia law school.
Example #8: Property Destruction and Trickery
It was more of the same. When students learned that there would be a 50% tuition increase, most of us were outraged. Not so the Federalists. Their position: only those whose parents could afford to pay for law school should be able to attend law school. Student government began a publicity campaign to alert students to this outrageous increase, which included posters and flyers placed all over campus. After just two days, all of the posters and flyers disappeared. I inquired of staff if they had taken them down, and they indicated that they had not. A month later, one of my organizations was holding an event the same time as one of the Federalist events. The posters were side by side. I walked by the posters, and saw that mine had been turned to the side, and theirs had been placed in front. Now, staff does not move posters around in that manner. So I picked up their poster to place them both in position.
What did I find on the back of their poster? The student government poster that I had prepared to alert students to the fee increase. They had stolen our poster, and then had been foolish enough to reuse it. If they hadn’t tried to cheat by hiding the other poster, I never would have known.
Example #9: Support of Urban Blight in Unthinking Pursuit of Money
In another incident, the administration of the University of Columbia law school tried to force a parking structure project onto the school without giving the project a fair hearing among faculty, staff, and students. The addition would have been a true detriment to the school and the community, other than raising some additional revenue. The school administration was actually in violation of city urban planning regulations by attempting to ram through this project. Once faculty, staff, and students learned of it, they became very upset. All except the Federalists. They came to meetings where we discussed the monstrosity, and said, just leave the administration alone. Administration needs money, (and it doesn’t matter how they get it. If they create an urban blight that could harm the city for 100 years, no worries!) They were unable to articulate any other argument in support of this project besides a need for revenue, and proposed no alternatives.
Example #10: Fear of Facts
The President of the campus Federalist Society enrolled in an International Trade Law course. When the professor documented for the class, as part of the economic historical background for the coursework, that Ronald Reagan had campaigned on the issue of cutting the Federal Deficit, but in fact increased it by 10 times, the Federalist Society President dropped the class. My opinion: rather than engage with the facts, he preferred to run from them. In any engagement with these extremists, one finds that rather than take the time to refute evidence, they run from it as the President of the Society physically did here, or engage in smear tactics to discredit the bearer of the facts (see Campus-Watch.)
So, these are the “moral, honest, upright” Americans whom we are supposed to believe in and follow blindly those who seethe with hatred for anyone who might disagree with them and will stoop to any tactic in order to advance their extremist agenda of creating divisions among people of good will and common sense.
The College Republicans and the Federalists claim to merely want to foster discussion of Constitutional issues. This is sham position, designed to discredit reasonable analysis of facts and policies that help to build a just and peaceful society. Only a few people at law school wanted to listen to their shrill high-pitched whining about the problems of the greedy, so they had to hold debates with the other side in order to gain an audience. Some of my Republican friends were outright contemptuous of their tactics. One noted that, “They would probably have supported the divine rights of Kings a thousand years ago.”
Example #11: Karl Rove’s Coup: Procedural Dirty Tricks
The College Republicans’ present penchant for tricksterisms may result from the relatively recent control of the society by people such as Karl Rove. He first gained his leadership position in the Federalist Society in 1976 by employing a procedural tactic that amounted to a coup. He challenged the credentials of all voters who voted against him, while not challenging those of those who voted for him. (1)
Everyone knows the old saying: if you lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas. Karl Rove’s plague of deception is becoming visible to the public now, with the mounting evidence that he may have revealed national security secrets about the identity of Valerie Plame in order to discredit the testimony of Ambassador Joseph Wilson regarding the unlikelihood of Iraq’s possession of yellow-cake uranium.
Example #12: The Plague of Deception
The plague of deception continues. In a tactic straight from Karl Rove’s playbook, The White House has refused to release many documents that Roberts prepared as a government lawyer. The White House has admitted that they went through them so they can start the propaganda ahead of their release. (3) Based on the evidence of dirty tricks noted above, I surmised that some might get “lost” during this review. Sure enough, we have learned that a file containing Roberts’ work on affirmative action are “missing”. (4)
The missing files seem to be part of a project to mislead Americans about the legal reasoning of John Roberts in order to place him on the highest court in the land.
The disappearance of important documents may mean that there may be something serious that must be hidden. Hiding facts is a well-known Karl Rovian trick designed to catapult propaganda. If these documents were so damning that they had to be disappeared, we are entitled to assume that Roberts’ legal reasoning is not mainstream in the least, and may be virulently extremist and destructive.
Rather than try to give Americans an opportunity to read his legal work and reveal information that would help us to evaluate his suitability for the Supreme Court, Roberts is colluding with the White House to keep documents from the public eye. Furthermore, according to a recent article, he also is an expert in avoiding direct answers to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee. He advised Sandra Day O’Connor on this unique skill before her confirmation hearing.(5) Such typical College Republican-Federalist Society tactics should cause most Americans to stop and think carefully about such a person sitting on the Supreme Court.
So, we see now why John Roberts has been downright reticent about his affiliation with the Federalist Society. Newspapers across the country were told that he was not a member and that they were not to insinuate such. Then, a booklet from 1998 was found, where he was listed as a guiding member. (6)
FRANKIE LAKE is a graduate of the “University of Columbia” School of Law. She is one of those darn “housewives” who decided to go to law school after a 20 year career in banking and real estate. John Roberts does not approve of this! She intends to practice environmental justice law after she passes the bar. Frankie is also a mother and grandmother, and can see the spot on people’s foreheads that grows red when they lie. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Charles Lane. Roberts Listed in Federalist Society ’97-98 Directory. The Washington Post. July 25, 2005.
2. Nicholas Lehman. The Controller: Karl Rove is working to get George Bush reelected, but he has bigger plans. “Profiles,” The New Yorker Magazine. May 12, 2003.
3. Jo Becker. Roberts Papers Being Delayed; Bush Aides Screen Pages for Surprises. August 10, 2005. The Washington Post. (free membership required).
4. R. Jeffrey Smith and Jo Becker. Library Missing Roberts File, Papers Lost After Lawyers’ Review. The Washington Post. August 17, 2005
5. Jo Becker and R. Jeffrey Smith. In ’81, Roberts Offered Counsel to O’Connor As Aide to Attorney General, He Urged Nominee to Be Reserved in Sharing Legal Views. The Washington Post. August 11, 2005
6. Charles Lane. Roberts Listed in Federalist Society ’97-98 Directory. The Washington Post. July 25, 2005.
Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. has repeatedly said that he has no memory of belonging to the Federalist Society, but his name appears in the influential, conservative legal organization’s 1997-1998 leadership directory.
Links to Karl Rove articles, the Federalist Society, the College Republicans, and the Young Republicans.
On Michael Young, a Washington state Republican: That same year, he worked on his first Congressional race. In 1973, he was chairman of the college Republicans in Salem, Ore., and helped elect Karl Rove to chairman of the College Republican National Committee. Rove is now Bush’s top political adviser. The College Republican organization is a feeder group for neoconservative leadership. This means that the patterns and practices of the organization are projected into government leadership.
Here, The Federalist Society piles on the dissimulations in trying to explain why Roberts denied membership.
How did all of this unscientific irrational justification for greed get started? I always wondered. I found out during my last year of law school. Lewis F. Powell and the National Chambers of Commerce. Read the Powell Memorandum at MediaTransparency.org
Links to other sources on the parties mentioned.
A chart showing fraternal relationships in top Republican leadership.