Share this

Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution, Amanda Hollis-Brusky

Reviewed by Daniel Bennett



Since its inception at Yale Law School in 1982, the Federalist Society has become the principal hub for conservative and libertarian legal thought in the United States. Despite its presence in academia, the legal profession, and beyond, there has been surprisingly little scholarly examination of its origins and influence.

Ideas with Consequences sets out to change that. Using rich archival research and interviews with legal elites, Amanda Hollis-Brusky sheds needed light on the Federalist Society. Her analysis shows how it not only helped organize the conservative legal movement but also affected the language and direction of key judicial decisions. The result is a convincing argument that the ideas formed in the Federalist Society have had, and continue to have, serious consequences.

Central to this book is the concept of the “political epistemic network” or “PEN.” The Federalist Society is an ideal PEN in that it is, among other things, composed of like-minded professionals with a shared vision of political and social life as well as shared beliefs about how to bring about that vision (p. 13). As a PEN, the Federalist Society has successfully affected the development of legal doctrine across a range of issues, with assistance from “signals” from supportive judges (p. 157).

To guide her study,

To continue reading, see options above.

About PSQ's Editor

Demetrios James Caraley

Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.

Editor’s spotlight

Primaries and Conventions

Will the Outcome be “Democratic”?: Delegate Selection and the 2020 Primaries
Marianna Palumbo and Robert Y. Shapiro

On To the Convention, Again
Caroline Monahan and Robert Y. Shapiro


Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

New APS Book

Presidential Selection and Democracy   PRESIDENTIAL SELECTION AND DEMOCRACY


Money and Poltics

April 6, 2020

This event is part of the nearly yearlong Challenges and Opportunities in 2020 election series.  The series fosters interdisciplinary conversations exploring themes affecting the upcoming election and trust in our democratic institutions.


About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS