BY HUGO TORRES
Following an annual tradition, the HLS Republicans took a trip to Washington D.C., spending two days in D.C. meeting with leaders from all three branches of government.
The first item on the itinerary was a meeting at the Old Executive Office Building with Harriet Miers, White House Counsel, and John McConnell, Deputy Presidential Speechwriter. The HLS students were treated to insider stories about working with President Bush, working as White House Counsel, and the process of preparing and revising presidential speeches. “Ms. Miers gave us a unique perspective on the President and the operations of the White House,” observed Patrick Bumatay, 2L, Executive VP of the HLS GOP. The morning meeting was followed by lunch with HLS alum Rachel Brand, who currently serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy.
After lunch, the HLS GOP walked over to the Supreme Court, where Justice Antonin Scalia discussed his experiences of being on the Court with the HLS group. Justice Scalia spent forty-five minutes with the HLS GOP, discussing cases such as Roper as well as giving personal reflections on being part of the Supreme Court, such as his judicial disagreements with Justice Clarence Thomas. “Although Justice Scalia was pessimistic about the state of the law, this is an exciting time to be a Republican,” said Jenn Carter, 2L. “It was tremendous to meet so many of the people who will lead the next four years of progress here and abroad.”
Following the meeting with Scalia, the group met with Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers and Stephen Haynes. Dr. Sommers, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author “The War Against Boys” and “Who Stole Feminism”. Haynes is a columnist for the Weekly Standard as well as author of “The Connection: How Al Qaeda’s Collaboration With Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America”. Eric Soskin, 3L, found the meeting to be invigorating. “Meeting with Dr. Sommers provided a good reminder that the Left hasn’t just gone astray on a few issues, but on an entire philosophy,” said Soskin.
For Tessa Platt, 3L, the variety of speakers provided a clear picture of the different doors a law degree opens up. “One of the most interesting parts of the trip was hearing about the career paths of the different speakers,” said Platt. “Most of them had extensive experience in both the private and public sectors. Furthermore, several of them were using their legal degrees in non-legal careers. It certainly encourages one to think outside the box when considering career choices.”
The second day of the trip, the group was treated to a presentation by Brett McGurk, an associate at Kirkland & Ellis, LLP on the law of occupation and the difficulties in rebuilding a country after a conflict. McGurk served for a while as associate counsel to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. “I thought McGurk was fascinating because you cannot hear a personal, behind-the-scenes account of the writing of the Iraqi Constitution – a document already inspiring unprecedented changes across the Middle East – anywhere else,” said Yaakov Roth, 1L.
The rest of the day involved a series of meetings with notable GOP figures. A meeting with Congressman and Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo) was followed by a discussion with Tom Joesfiak, the General Counsel to the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign.
The group also heard Ken Mehlman speak on the future of the GOP. Mehlman served as campaign chairman for Bush-Cheney and is now chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Finally, the day of came to a close with a tour of the Pentagon and a meeting with Jim Haynes, General Counsel of the Department of Defense. This visit to the DOD proved to be the highlight of the trip for Soraya Freed, 2L. “While I was awed and excited by the idealism, intelligence, and drive of all the speakers with which we met, I was most affected by the 9/11 memorial inside the Pentagon. What a privilege to stand where such heroes fell, and to remember them,” said Freed.
Lee Rudofsky, 3L, President of the HLS GOP, hoped the trip proved a good experience for fellow GOPers. “If our members, particularly the 1Ls, came back to campus with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to our cause, like I believe they have, then the trip was an outstanding success,” said Rudofsky.
Matthew Long, 1L, was impressed by the quality of speakers. “Between such diverse venues as a think tank, the supreme court and even a law firm the common denominator was the enthusiasm with which each of our speakers talked about serving their country,” said Long.
The HLS GOP Spring Semester D.C. Trip took place from March 10th-March 11th.