Book Forum

The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement

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Date and Time
May 14, 2008 12 - 1:30 PM EDT
1st floor/Wintergarden
Featuring the author, Steven Teles, University of Maryland and Yale University Law School, with comments from Roger Pilon, Cato Institute and Hon. David McIntosh, Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, former Member of Congress (R-IN), Federalist Society Co‐​Founder. Moderated by Ilya Shapiro.

Starting in the 1970s, conservatives learned that electoral victory did not easily convert into a reversal of important liberal accomplishments, especially in the law. As a result, conservatives’ mobilizing efforts increasingly turned to law schools, professional networks, public interest groups, and the judiciary—areas traditionally controlled by liberals. Drawing from previously unavailable internal documents, as well as interviews with key figures, The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement examines this sometimes fitful, and still only partially successful, conservative (and libertarian) challenge to liberal domination of the law. Steven Teles explores how this mobilization was shaped by the legal profession and the difficulties in matching strategic opportunities with effective organizational responses. He explains how foundations and other groups promoting conservative ideas built a network designed to dislodge legal liberalism from American elite institutions. And he portrays the reality, not of a grand strategy masterfully pursued, but of individuals and political entrepreneurs learning from trial and error. The book provides an unprecedented look at the inner life of one of the most striking developments in American public affairs over the last several decades.