Political Orgs at YLS

March 11, 2008

L.M., 1L

As you may imagine, this primary season has been a hot topic at the Yale Law School. While many professors have attempted to take a decidedly neutral stance, the students are quite another story.

Two of the main student-run organizations, the Federalist Society (FedSoc, conservative and libertarian students) and the American Constitution Society (ACS, progressive students) have hosted events targeted to get students dialoguing about issues that many will work on after graduation. At first I attempted to steer clear of what I perceived to be strawman debates between hand selected parties, but a friend invited me to a debate in November on the constitutional interpretation of the 2nd amendment. It was one of the best panels that I’ve attended at Yale – the speakers directly engaged one another over history, politics and policy and the students asked both playful and serious questions.

The most interesting personalities to visit campus are often spearheaded by the political organizations. FedSoc invites controversial public figures, from John Bolton, former US Ambassador to the United Nations to Judge Jay Bybee, former Assistant Attorney General. Two weeks ago, ACS and the Yale Law Dems sponsored Senator Chuck Schumer from New York. Even better, the groups often host small group lunches or dinners after the speakers to allow five to ten law students to interact with the speakers on a more informal basis. Last week I went to a lunch with a judge from the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and heard anecdotal advice on how he conducted hiring his clerks. Plus, both FedSoc and ACS sponsor reading groups to bridge the social and academic.

The clubs expand their talks beyond politics and dialogue. For the State of the Union address in January, a fellow federalist baked scones and served cinnamon tea for an upscale party and discussion. A week later for the Super Tuesday returns it was chips and beer for a more relaxed social. Later this week ACS and FedSoc will cosponsor a dinner discussion on clerking. In a few weeks I’ll be heading to the University of Michigan for a national FedSoc conference. The panel of speakers will include federal judges, social commentators, and even a few Yale Law professors. Getting involved with FedSoc has bridged networking, politics, and socializing, which I’ve found is typical for many Yale extracurriculars.