JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Mid-Missouri will soon be welcoming a new chapter of the Federalist Society to Jefferson City.
The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies has chartered a new Jefferson City Attorney Chapter, which will consist of roughly 45 active members who reside in mid-Missouri.
Founded in 1982, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies is a non-partisan organization consisting of conservatives and libertarians who share an interest in the current state of the legal order. The organization was formed under the tenets that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of powers is “central to the Constitution,” and that the judicial branch serves to interpret laws and enforce them, not create. Members believe in the importance of individual liberties, traditional values, and the rule of law – they are lawyers, after all. Currently, the organization includes more than 35,000 members nationally, with active chapters in sixty cities, including Kansas City and St. Louis.
Jefferson City will now be added to that list.
“I think there were two things that led to the start of this chapter: there are a lot of attorneys who have been members of the organization for a long time, but there just was not chapter here. But with the election of a Republican Attorney General and other statewide officeholders, there was a feeling that there probably should be a chapter here. There’s also been an effort nationally to establish chapters in state capitols,” Missouri House of Representatives Counsel David Welch said.
As the new branch prepares to roll out, they’ve been working to line out all of the necessities to get things up and running, including the choosing of leadership. And the new leadership in the steering committee boasts some impressive names in Missouri’s legal realm. The steering committee governing the new local chapter is comprised of the following attorneys:
• Hon. Jon Beetem, Cole County Circuit Court
• Stephanie Bell, Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch
• Jennifer Bukowsky, Bukowsky Law Firm
• Marc Ellinger, Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch
• Hon. Zel Fischer, Missouri Supreme Court
• Jason Glahn, Missouri House of Representatives
• Hon. Daniel Green, Cole County Circuit Court
• Lucinda Luetkemeyer, Office of the Governor
• David Minnick, Office of Secretary of State
• Evan Rosell, Office of the Attorney General
• David Welch, Missouri House of Representatives
• Hampton Williams, Office of Public Counsel
The Steering Committee for the chapter held its first official meeting on June 29th, selecting Welch as President, Ellinger as Vice President, Bell as Secretary, Glahn as Program Chair, Williams as Student Liaison, and Bukowsky as Membership Director.
“I think that’s an outstanding steering committee,” Welch said with a laugh. “We’ve just started on working to put together an advisory committee, and Todd Richardson, the House Speaker has agreed to do it, as well as Senator Bob Onder, who is one of the two senators who are also lawyers. We hope to have several others, as well, but we just started working on that in the last ten days or so.”
The advisory committee would be made up of people the chapter thinks are knowledgeable in their fields of expertise, as well as respected members of both the political and legal community who can provide them with good advice and feedback.
The new chapter also anticipates presenting four Continuing Legal Education-qualifying programs and several social events each year.
“Last year, I was lucky enough to go to a national meeting, which served as a sort of review of Justice [Antonin] Scalia and what he gave to the legal system, and that got me excited about it again,” Welch said. “We had our first event in January, before we were a chapter. It was kind of a meeting of the Missouri Chapters at the State Capitol. We met up in the House Chambers, and the topic of discussion was tort reform. The Governor addressed us with the opening comments, and Speaker Todd Richardson served as the Master of Ceremonies.”
That event had nearly 100 people in attendance, and the successful turnout has led the Society to the decision to hold a similar event on the last Monday in January each year.
That would mean the next one would take place on January 29, 2018. A press release from the chapter says the event will be held jointly with the Kansas City and the St. Louis Chapters, and that they are working with national Federalist Society to bring in a national speaker for the event.
“We are looking at talking about anonymous campaign contributions and campaign finance reform this year,” Welch said.
The group’s first meeting isn’t far off, as they have scheduled a two-hour meet and greet on September 18 for members only at the Grand Cafe in Jefferson City, running from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
For any attorney interested in joining, all they need to do is become an active member with the national organization, which they can do online. Annual dues are $50 for lawyers and $25 for public sector lawyers.
Benjamin Peters was a reporter for The Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine and also produced the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined The Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield.