1. The Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization, held its annual National Student Symposium in Austin, Texas, where attendees discussed the relationship between law and democracy.
2. The symposium revealed a debate within the Federalist Society about the wisdom of deferring to democratic majorities as a matter of principle, now that conservatives have secured a solid majority on the Supreme Court.
3. Attendees grappled with ideas that raised fundamental questions about American democracy and its apparent decline, including outlandish-seeming calls for a "national divorce."
The article provides an in-depth look at the Federalist Society's National Student Symposium, an annual gathering of conservative and libertarian law students hosted by the conservative legal behemoth. The author notes that the symposium was built around a series of panel discussions with prominent legal scholars, lawyers, and federal judges, offering up-and-coming conservative lawyers a prized opportunity to rub elbows with the leading lights of the conservative legal movement.
However, the article also highlights that there is a spirited debate within the Federalist Society about the wisdom of deferring to democratic majorities as a matter of principle. The tension between judicial restraint and interpreting the Constitution is neatly captured in two headline-making decisions that went conservatives' way in the last Supreme Court term. In Dobbs ruling, the conservative majority returned the abortion question to state legislatures, limiting federal judges' role in determining reproductive rights. Meanwhile, in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen — which struck down a New York law that set requirements for individuals to receive a concealed carry permit for handguns — the Court trumped the decision of a state legislature in favor of conservatives' preferred reading of the Second Amendment.
The article also notes that there are fundamental questions about American democracy raised at this year's symposium. From radical new theories about election law to outlandish-seeming calls for a "national divorce," symposium-goers were grappling with ideas that raised fundamental questions about American democracy — what it means, what it entails, and what, if anything, the conservative legal movement has to say about its apparent decline.
One potential bias in this article is its focus on highlighting tensions within the Federalist Society regarding their stance on democracy and judicial restraint. While this tension is undoubtedly present within the organization, it may not be representative of all members or even most members' views. Additionally, while some attendees may have been grappling with radical new theories about election law or calls for a national divorce, it is unclear how prevalent these views are within the organization as a whole.
Overall, the article provides an interesting look at the Federalist Society's National Student Symposium and raises important questions about the conservative legal movement's stance on democracy and judicial restraint. However, readers should be aware of potential biases in the reporting and consider other perspectives before drawing conclusions.