The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies is an organization of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of legal order. It is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to the Constitution, and that it is the province of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be. The Society seeks both to promote an awareness of these principles and to further their application through its activities.
The Society, founded in 1982, now has more than 25,000 members, chapters in 145 of the ABA accredited law schools and lawyer chapters in 60 major cities.
The Federalist Society brings distinguished speakers to Southwestern. These include leading judges, lawyers, politicians, and philosophers, who speak on topics such as law and economics, government regulation of people's lives, and the extent to which the judicial branch should go in scrutinizing legislative enactments. Past subjects include zoning, land use, rent control, and government regulation. From time to time, the Society presents members of the law school's faculty who engage in spirited debate and lively exchange of ideas. All points of view are presented, often forcefully and sometimes colorfully.