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How the Federalist Society came to dominate US law & politics

On this edition of Your Call, we discuss the power and influence of the Federalist Society.

In a piece for Truthout, law professors Michael Avery and Mark Brodin detail how the society evolved from a small group of disaffected conservative law students into an organization with extraordinary influence over American law and politics. The group has successfully lobbied for years to strike down affirmative action, overturn Roe, and undermine civil rights.

Today, there are over 60,000 conservative lawyers and law students involved with Federalist Society activities with chapters in 90 cities, including six Supreme Court justices.

The Republican Party has played the long game to take control of the courts. The Democratic Party hasn't had a game. What explains this? And what can be done to counter the influence of this powerful and well funded group?


Michael Avery, professor Emeritus at Suffolk Law School in Boston, founder of the National Police Accountability Project, author of several books, including The Federalist Society: How Conservatives Took the Law Back from Liberalsand former civil rights and criminal defense attorney for over four decades

Mark Brodin, law professor, Distinguished Scholar and former associate dean for academic affairs at Boston College Law School, and author of several book and legal articles, including The Murder of Black Males in a World of Non-Accountability: The Surreal Trial of George Zimmerman for the Killing of Trayvon Martin

Web Resources:

Balls and Strikes: Without Supreme Court Expansion, Liberals Might Not Control the Court Until 2065

Truthout: The Federalist Society Just Won Its 40-Year War on Affirmative Action

The New Yorker: How the Federalist Society Won

Vox: The incredible influence of the Federalist Society, explained

The Intercept: The Federalist Society's 40-Year Plot to Undo Roe v. Wade

Slate: How the Federalist Society became the de facto selector of Republican Supreme Court justices

The Washington Post: Influential activist Leonard Leo helped fund media campaign lionizing Clarence Thomas

Rose Aguilar has been the host of Your Call since 2006. She became a regular media roundtable guest in 2001. In 2019, the San Francisco Press Club named Your Call the best public affairs program. In 2017, The Nation named it the most valuable local radio show.
Bee Soll is a producer with Your Call at KALW, and a producer, writer, and editor at KCBS Radio in San Francisco. She is a former reporter for Crosscurrents and contributor at KPFA Radio.