BATON ROUGE – The death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may have been a blow to those who live by the principles of limited government and traditional values, but many local attorneys who share Scalia’s outlook continue to meet, discuss and promote those principles.
The Baton Rouge Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society, for one, has a following of 50 to 150 people who attend the chapter’s events. The local group’s parent organization, the Federalist Society of Law and Public Policy Studies, has members nationwide who have conservative and libertarian philosophies, and an interest in the legal system.
“The Federalist Society’s membership continues to grow,” chapter co-president Jason Doré said in an email to the Louisiana Record. “Over 55,000 lawyers and students are involved in its activities.”
Doré, an attorney with the Doré Jeansonne Law Firm in Baton Rouge, serves as co-president of the chapter with Beverly Moore Haydel and Catherine Newsome. The chapter was founded in 2013, and it was none other than Scalia who gave the keynote speech at the chapter’s first meeting.
“Many of us are saddened by the passing of Justice Scalia, but his extraordinary legacy lives on," Doré said.
The chapter doesn’t have regular monthly meetings, but Doré said members are planning to sponsor some events later this year.
“We plan to host an event honoring Justice Scalia with his close friend, professor John Baker, later this spring,” he said. “We are discussing ideas for summer and fall events.”
Baker, professor emeritus at Louisiana State University, regularly taught law students and attorneys about the Constitution’s separation of powers with Scalia during classes that were organized by the Federalist Society. In general, the separation of powers refers to the decentralized government structure the nation’s founders outlined in the Constitution, including a legislature consisting of two separate houses, a separate executive branch and an independent system of courts.
“The separation of powers aligns with the Federalist Society’s appreciation for limited government,” Doré said. “The constitutional structure of separation of powers ensures that the Bill of Rights is more than empty promises.”
The Federalist Society does not promote a singular approach to constitutional jurisprudence, such as Scalia’s emphasis on an “originalist” approach – the idea that courts should interpret the Constitution based on the intentions of those who wrote the document, Doré said.
“While overall the society believes in limited government, its members are diverse and often hold conflicting views on a broad range of issues and approaches,” he said.
According to the Baton Rouge chapter’s website, Brfedsoc.org, the Federalist Society is an intellectual network of conservatives and libertarians spanning all levels of the legal system.
“The chapter will hold events throughout the year with prominent legal scholars, judges and practitioners in order to provide a forum for members of the Baton Rouge and surrounding area legal community to promote awareness and discussion of pressing legal issues facing our country,” the website states.
Past speakers at chapter events have included prominent Louisiana politicians such as U.S. Sen. David Vitter.