Democracy Works

The Federalist Society's ideas have consequences for democracy

Episode Summary

The Federalist Society began as a way for libertarian and conservative intellectuals to share and advance legal and policy ideas. Over the past 40 years, our guest this week argued that they've "bottled lightning" and transformed into something that's altered the very fabric of American democracy.

Episode Notes

Is the Federalist Society bad for democracy? There's nothing inherently wrong with groups of like-minded people organizing to share and disseminate their ideas — everyone from James Madison to Alexis de Tocqueville would agree on that. However, our guest this week argues that the group's outsized role in the courts has undermined the notion of judicial independence, one of the hallmarks of our democratic experiment.

Amanda Hollis-Brusky is an associate professor of politics at Pomona College. She is the author of Ideas with Consequences, which examines the history of the Federalist Society and how it's shaped the courts and their relationship to the other branches of government over the past 40 years.

Additional Information

Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution

Amanda's September 2020 congressional testimony 

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