There is happy news from state supreme courts—more justices committed to correct methods of legal interpretation are being appointed. To name just two of the most recent additions: Rebecca Bradley of Wisconsin and Joan Larsen of Michigan as well as a still relatively recent addition, David Stras of the Minnesota Supreme Court All three have fine credentials. Stras and Larsen were professors before ascending the bench, and professors turned judges have often turned out to be the most influential of jurists.
The Federalist Society’s decision to establish chapters throughout the nation is in no small measure responsible for the flowering of state conservative jurisprudence. The Society was founded on law school campuses and then migrated to Washington, as some of its leaders took jobs in the Reagan administration. But creating a presence in the hinterlands then made it possible for lawyers of like mind to focus on the judiciary in their states. All too often, Republican governors had not paid much attention to judicial nominees’ stances on legal interpretation, believing that identification with the Republican party was enough to assure good decisions. But even Republican lawyers emerge from a legal culture that leans decidedly left, and the recognition and awards from that culture move judges to in that direction unless they come anchored in the right. The Federalist Society provides the merry fellowship that helps these jurists resist the temptation to drift.
The increase in the number of justices committed to fidelity to law on state benches has several good consequences.