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July 27, 2005

A Supreme Court Justice Should Have a Better Memory

Shouldn't a Supreme Court justice have a better memory? It's possible to forget joining an organization. It's hard to forget being on its steering committee:

Roberts Listed in Federalist Society '97-98 Directory: By Charles Lane: 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. Having served only two years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit... Roberts has not amassed much of a public paper record.... [The] Federalist Society... keeps its membership rolls secret.... When news organizations have reported his membership in the society, he or others speaking on his behalf have sought corrections. Last week, the White House told news organizations that had reported his membership in the group that he had no memory of belonging....

Over the weekend, The Post obtained a copy of the Federalist Society Lawyers' Division Leadership Directory, 1997-1998. It lists Roberts, then a partner at the law firm Hogan & Hartson, as a member of the steering committee of the organization's Washington chapter and includes his firm's address and telephone number. Yesterday, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Roberts "has no recollection of being a member of the Federalist Society, or its steering committee."...

Then it gets really weird:

Federalist Society Executive Vice President Leonard A. Leo said that either he or another official of the organization recruited Roberts for the [steering] committee.... Membership in the sense of paying dues was not required as a condition of inclusion in a listing of the society's leadership, Leo said....

[T]he society is tolerant of those who come to its meetings or serve on committees without paying dues. "John Roberts probably realized pretty quickly he could take part in activities he wanted to" without being current on his dues, Whelan said.... In 2001, after he was nominated by President Bush for the seat he currently holds on the court of appeals, Roberts spoke to Post reporter James V. Grimaldi and asked him to correct an item Grimaldi had written that described Roberts as a member of the Federalist Society. In a subsequent column, Grimaldi wrote that Roberts "is not and never has been a member of the Federalist Society, as previous reported in this column."...

How much are Federalist Society membership fees? $100 per person a year? Would you want a cheepskate on the Supreme Court?

Posted by DeLong at July 27, 2005 10:37 AM