Federalist Society Convention Kicks Off With Call to Oppose Obama Judge Picks

November 12, 2009 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) kicked off the annual Federalist Society convention today with a call to oppose President Obama’s liberal nominees for the federal judiciary, Legal Times reports.

“We are in a long and difficult fight,” Sessions told the gathering of leading conservative lawyers, judges and law professors from around the country. Sessions was referring to the importance of expanding conservatives’ influence on the federal judiciary, and rejecting President Obama’s interest in appointing judges with “empathy,” a factor the president said influenced his choice of Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Sessions reportedly said that conservatives must keep debating the appropriate role of judges and “must take the debate right to the American people.”

The three-day Federalist Society convention is taking place at Washington, D.C.’s Renaissance Mayflower Hotel. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and Judge Douglas Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit are among the scheduled speakers.

In his speech, Sessions said Republicans would not attempt to filibuster most of President Obama’s choices for the bench, although he didn’t rule out filibustering some of them.

He singled out Judge David Hamilton, a nominee to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, as a judge who’s too liberal on matters such as abortion, prayer in public school and criminal sentencing. Sessions similarly criticized Hamilton in a recent letter sent to his Republican colleagues in the Senate. The letter, which called for Republicans to oppose his elevation to the court of appeals, said Hamilton was using his role on the district court to “drive a political agenda” and that Hamilton believed “empathy” should factor into the process of judging, which Sessions called a form of “activism.”