Farewell to the Mayflower
The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. opened in 1925. It is iconic. Presidents and world leaders have stayed there. It hosted many inaugural balls. And for the past four decades, the Mayflower has been the home of the Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention. Attending the annual meeting at the Mayflower is like a pilgrimage for conservative lawyers. I’ve attended every convention since I was a 1L in 2006. I still remember with awe my first visit. I walked through the gilded doors, across the marble lobby, into the bustling hallway, and sat down in the grand ballroom. I was awe-struck by the classic decor in the room, and even more impressed by the luminaries sitting in our midst.
In November 2009, shortly after I launched my blog, I live-blogged the Convention. I wrote up summaries of sessions, posted short clips of the programming to YouTube, and tweeted highlights. (You can see the entries here.) At the time, FedSoc did not have any social media team, and none of the sessions were live-streamed. For those who like a throwback, here is a clip from 2009, which captures my youthful humor, and the Mayflower’s grandeur:
But perhaps the most significant moment of the 2009 Convention occurred in the grand hallway. I described it in my 2009 book, Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare:
The convention draws prominent academics, politicians, and judges from across the ideological spectrum to discuss and debate the key legal issues of the day. As is often the case at such conventions, some panels are more interesting than others. During lulls, attendants frequently recess to the grand hallway in the Mayflower to catch up with old friends, argue about the most recent Supreme Court case, or brainstorm and strategize. November 12, 2009, was just such a day. At 10:15 AM, a panel began on “Bailouts and Government as Insurer of Last Resort.” Though certainly an interesting topic, a number of already-fatigued Federalists made their way out into the cavernous hallway. I joined them. Todd Gaziano, director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation—the same Heritage Foundation that had first advanced the individual mandate two decades earlier—was talking about the pending health care bill along with Nelson Lund, my former professor at George Mason University School of Law; Andrew Grossman, a former classmate; and a few others. At this point the law still had n
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