We previously provided you with our photographic coverage of the Federalist Society’s annual dinner, held last Thursday at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC. Now we offer a short (and admittedly belated) write-up of the proceedings.
For more systematic accounts of the dinner, check out the news links collected at the end of this post. For our more idiosyncratic reflections, read on — after the jump.
It was a glamorous evening. As we noted earlier, the Fed Soc annual dinner is like the Oscars for the conservative legal establishment. Everywhere you turn, you see a boldface name: Justice Scalia! Ted Olson and Lady Booth! Justice Alito! In honor of the occasion, we donned a tuxedo (and even bothered to shave).
The dinner is preceded by a
massive job fair cocktail party, during which bigwigs of the conservative legal establishment hobnob with each other. It’s followed by the dinner itself, held in the Marriott’s sunken, cavernous ballroom. This year’s dinner was attended by 1,500, and the enormous room was packed.
We were guests of the DLA Piper Law Firm, at table 37 — a very desirable table. Fed Soc members often compare table numbers as if they were, say, certain parts of the anatomy. The lower the table number, the better (since the biggest luminaries tend to be at, say, tables 1-30). At last year’s dinner, our table number was 100-something; so we shot up about 80 places, which was nice.
(To put our table number in context, conservative legal celebrity Ted Frank, of AEI, was at table 42. So table 37 was a coup for us.)
The company at our table was very distinguished too. In addition to our host, Kevin O’Scannlain of DLA Piper, and his delightful wife, Dawn, there were three members of the Elect (including two current SCOTUS clerks). Also present were Professor Douglas Kmiec, of Pepperdine Law School, and Elisebeth Collins Cook, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, of the Office of Legal Policy.
A few highlights from the remarks:
Leonard Leo, Federalist Society Executive Vice President, in his introductory remarks:
“Thank you for your support. You can pick up your subpoenas on the way out.”
Justice Antonin Scalia, honored for his twenty years of service on the Supreme Court, delivered a gracious acceptance speech. He first introduced his wife and nine children, arrayed on the stage:
“There they are, all nine of ’em — in age order!”
At the start of his remarks:
“I’m better at dealing with criticism than with praise.””
So true, so true! And while his acceptance speech was entertaining, Justice Scalia is far more funny when he’s on the offensive.
In thanking the Society, Justice Scalia paraphrased President Lyndon Johnson, who once said, “My father would have enjoyed what you have so generously said of me-and my mother would have believed it.” Our recollection is that Justice Scalia reversed the parents.
No acceptance speech would be complete without expressions of gratitude. Justice Scalia thanked his law clerks, whom he asked to stand for a round of applause — there were oodles of ’em in the room — and D.C. Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman, whom he described as his “political and ethical advisor, since my name went forward” to serve as a justice.
See? Justice Scalia conferring with Judge Silberman? It really IS a “vast right-wing conspiracy”!
Finally, Justice Scalia gave a moving tribute to his wife, Maureen Scalia:
“I must thank my advisor in everything else: the product of the best decision I ever made, mother of my nine kids, who raised them with very little assistance from me — and there’s not a dullard in the bunch. My wife, Maureen McCarthy Scalia.”
This was followed by a standing ovation, as well it should have been.
During his speech, Mrs. Scalia was standing by Justice Scalia’s side, in a gorgeous black jacket gown. The collar of the jacket was drizzled with sequins; they glittered as her husband spoke. Bling bling!!!
(To be continued. In the next post, we’ll discuss Justice Alito’s remarks.)
New Justices Take the Podium, Putting Personalities on Display [Washington Post]
A Somber Annual Meeting for Conservative Lawyers [New York Times]
Alito Urges Judges to Show Restraint [Associated Press]
At the Federalist Society Dinner [TedFrank.com]