April 27, 2009
Dear Friends and Supporters:
We all know economic times are hard. But from viewing the ballroom during any of our many panels during our Annual National Lawyers Convention last November, you would never know that. Those inside the beltway who have never quite understood what makes the Federalist Society successful were expecting the economy and, in their view, the election to have a negative effect on this year’s convention. Both the mood of the gathering and the 1,400 participants (our second best only to last year’s 25th anniversary) proved them wrong.
The reason is simple. The Federalist Society has always been about ideas. Indeed, when asked recently about the changing Washington landscape by The Legal Times, I said that I thought the organization would thrive in the new era because the Federalist Society is, and always has been, about ideas. The assumption in Washington is that the closer you are to power, the more influence you have. But, as my father told me, at the end of the day, power has the second to last word in the affairs of men. Ideas have the last word.
With the change of Administration, the opportunity for the Federalist Society to generate critical and incisive discussion of ideas will be greater than ever. There will be many legal issues pertaining to the financial bailout but there will also be a vast number of other policy proposals emanating from the new Administration. Many of these issues will be high profile, and the Federalist Society is poised to conduct significant programming and scholarship on them. Other very important issues will undoubtedly pass under the radar.
The Federalist Society now has 4,000 active volunteers with expertise in every nook and cranny of the law. Our volunteers may well notice key proposals that are not receiving attention and discussion. Our laws and regulations will be far better if we assure that critical proposals receive a vigorous airing before becoming law. Now more than ever, we will call on our volunteers for assistance in alerting us to such proposals and then generating discussion about them.
In our effort to change the legal culture, we will continue to bring traditional legal principles, through debate and discussion, to law students, lawyers, and others in our ever-broadening community. Now more than ever, we must present the best minds and the best arguments to our audiences so that all sides of important legal questions will be brought to light.
In 2008 the Society was able to bring our programs to the largest number of law students in our 26-year history. We are pleased to note that there is a Federalist Society Student Chapter on every law school campus in America. Participation in our Lawyers Chapters and Practice Groups has also expanded throughout the country. Our State Courts and media efforts also ensure that these principles reach far beyond the academic world. The development of our Faculty Division will help assure a vigorous discussion of our ideas in the law schools.
This fiscal year, which ended September 30th, our revenues increased by 15 percent, following an upward trend that began six years ago. In these uncertain economic times, we will be cautious about our commitments but we will do everything we can to raise enough money to continue to produce Federalist Society programs everywhere they are requested and needed at law schools, at Lawyers Chapters, in Practice Groups and special projects across the country.
We will depend on the support of people, like you, who understand the value of our continuing mission to introduce traditional legal principles to a new class of law students each and every year, to keep those ideals before conservative and libertarian lawyers in all parts of the country and through our scholarship and special projects to try to inform and educate the public on the role of the courts.
You should know that the contributions you have made to the Federalist Society represent good value. We still get more bang for our buck than many organizations because so many of our highly competent members volunteer their talents to lead programs all over the country. Every dollar we raise counts.
This will be a challenging time ahead. As discussed above, there is much to be done and a difficult climate in which to do it. But with the help of our members and donors, we are confident that we can continue building the next generation and advancing the rule of law.
Eugene B. Meyer