The Warrior Princess is back from Washington DC and checks in with her report on the barbeque event of the social season:
Anxious to get a glimpse of the surrounding grounds, my roommate and I scampered down the rock stairway, and unbeknownst to us, we scampered right through the middle of the receiving line of our esteemed host. Once we realized who we had just rushed by, we turned to find him smiling in our direction. Sheepishly, we introduced ourselves while shooting apologetic glances at the line of people we had just cut in front of. Shaking our hands, our host in Hawaiian shirt and khaki shorts replied, "Ted Olson, pleasure to meet you."
It wasn't exactly an enviable position. Though we had cut a good twenty minutes off time we would have spent in line, we also didn't have the benefit of spending that twenty minutes figuring out how we were going to make small talk with Theodore Olson, Solicitor General of the United States. It was a humorous beginning to an entirely enjoyable evening.
Ted Olson's Federalist Society summer BBQ has become a Washington tradition. In its fledgling years, I've been led to believe it consisted of Ted Olson working a Weber grill, burning some brats, and entertaining about 20 distinguished guests. That number has since risen to a yearly attendance of roughly 700 guests, with Mr. Olson retiring his spatula in favor of a fully catered extravaganza complete with valet parking.
The BBQ mixes raw conservative legal talent with seasoned judicial and political muscle in an afternoon of fun, food, and conversation. The young bucks included Federalist Society Chapter Presidents from 170 law schoolsacross the nation, a throng of Blackstone Fellows, and other Federalist Society members working in D.C. for the summer. The seasoned veterans present represented some of the best conservative and libertarian minds in the nation.
Among the wise sages was cowboy, D.C. circuit judge, and author of "Judge Dave and the Rainbow People," theHonorable David Sentelle. Donning a very large belt buckle, a wide brim cowboy hat and with cigar in hand, conversation with Judge Sentelle was very entertaining. I told him my thoughts on North Carolina Basketball's recent coaching change, and he told me the story of sending his clerks to go "watch naked hippies running around the forest." Somehow, I don't think that tidbit of information was included in the job description.
Kate O 'Beirne of the National Review prompted discussion about the "Kerry Catholics" that the Republican Party is highlighting at the National Convention and the state of conservatism today.
And Blackstone Fellow Joshua Davey, though short on years, was long on experience as plaintiff in one of the most important religious liberty decisions to come out of the Supreme Court in the last five years. Havingspent a large amount of time last year hypothesizing about how the court would rule in that case, it was a thrill to meet the humble unassuming gentleman who started all the hullabaloo.
The BBQ's most notable guest was Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. I spent last summer as a Blackstone Fellow with Professor John Eastman at the Claremont Institute, who was a former Clarence Thomas clerk. Professor Eastman had told me stories so I had an idea of what to expect, and Justice Thomas certainly lived up to his reputation.
Justice Thomas is one of the nicest individuals I have ever met. The man has a grip like a linebacker. I almost cried uncle when he shook my hand. He sported a Texas Tech T-Shirt, which we learned was because he is a Bobby Knight fan. After exchanging pleasantries for a few minutes, I mentioned I had worked for Professor Eastman. He let out a belly laugh and told me with fondness that John Eastman was the only clerk he ever had with more gray hair than him.
Before I proved to him I was a complete dork by complimenting him on his Establishment Clause Jurisprudence, other students joined the fray, and I made my exit.
The BBQ was any conservative law student's dream event. I don't know if I'll ever be in the company of that many important people at one time again. Maybe I will. Perhaps someday I might even be counted as oneof the important people. If I am, and some poor schmuck nobody student wants to shake my hand, I hope I'll be as cordial and amiable to them as the individuals I met last weekend were to me.
Great story, and never fear Warrior Princess, you shall be in the company of the intellectual elite again. Don't forget, you have a personal invitation to the upcoming amateur internet editorializers (aka "bloggers") mixer at Keegan's on Saturday, July 24.
Sure, that other party had Ted Olson and Clarence Thomas. But we've got Mitch Berg and the Atomizer. Just wait until you hear their theories on Establishment Clause jurisprudence. Heck, wait'll you hear them try to pronounce "Establishment Clause jurisprudence."