Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Federalist Society?

I guess this is now a question that must be asked of every U.S. Supreme Court nominee to determine whether they are a member of a dangerous secret society and compromised in their ability to perform their sworn duty to uphold and defend the Constitution.

That’s what I surmise by the focus on this issue in the media with respect to the nomination of Judge John Roberts.

“Supreme Court nominee John Roberts declined Monday to say why he was listed in a leadership directory of the Federalist Society, and the White House said he has no recollection of belonging to the conservative group,” the Associated Press reported.

The story continued: “The question of Roberts’ membership in the society – an influential organization of conservative lawyers and judges formed the early 1980s to combat what its members said was growing liberalism on the bench – emerged as a vexing issue at the start of another week of meetings for President Bush’s nominee on Capitol Hill.”

And what is the Federalist Society?

Listen to the way the group describes itself and tell me if you are concerned?

“It is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.”

Oooooooh, scary.

With a philosophy like that, membership in the Federalist Society should be a prerequisite to nomination to the federal bench, it seems to me. Yet, the question of Federalist Society membership in the case of Roberts is the central focus of debate.

The very same people so determined to tie Roberts to the Federalist Society are those who decry the time in our history when Congress sought to find out whether appointees and employees of government were actually members of secret societies pledged to destroy our system of government.

They refer to congressional inquiries about membership in the Communist Party in the 1950s as a “witch hunt.”

The Communist Party USA was under the control of a foreign totalitarian government that sought to destroy not only our system of government, but the country along with it. To ask about membership in that organization was bad. To ask about membership in the Federalist Society is good. Go figure.

And if membership in organizations is an important criterion to those asking the questions – which I believe it should be – then we should definitely ask all judicial nominees whether they are or ever have been members of the American Civil Liberties Union. If so, this should be a disqualifier for office, unless the nominee renounces the group as the subversive, anti-American, anti-Christian organization it is.

Ruther Bader Ginsburg, a current member of the court, was a political director of the ACLU. It’s right there in her official court biography for one and all to check. I’m not aware that it was a sticking point in her confirmation hearings. She was approved overwhelmingly, despite her record of extremist political advocacy.

What an incredible double-standard we now have before us. It’s a matter of some concern that a nominee might belong to a group that believes the state’s job is to preserve freedom, believes in the separation of power and believes it is illegal and inappropriate for the court to make law. But it is not legitimate to be concerned about membership in a truly subversive group that undermines our most basic notions of individual rights and self-government.

I’m all for asking the question: Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Federalist Society? An affirmative response is a good litmus test to determine whether we have a judicial nominee worthy of holding office.

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