“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.” So says The Washington Post, also noting: “In conservative circles, membership in or association with the society has become a badge of ideological and political reliability.”
The society keeps the identities of its members secret (or rather, confidential, the society’s preferred term), though it does sell ties and an official pin, right, for anyone who wants to profess membership. And let’s not forget, “membership in the sense of paying dues was not required as a condition of inclusion in a listing of the society’s leadership,” says a top Federalist Society exec who believes he may have recruited Roberts. But he wouldn’t say “whether Roberts had ever paid dues.”
The Post story notes further:
Roberts has burnished his legal image carefully. 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. The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today and the Associated Press printed corrections.
If you or I burnished our images as carefully — for instance, by omitting membership in the National Rifle Association from a résumé submitted for a temp job in the Brady Campaign — that would disqualify us on sight. But Roberts is only applying for a lifetime job on the Supreme Court, so the White House figures it’s OK. Beside, Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia are Federalist Society members. Why make a big deal out of one more?