Federalist Society brings law, policy discussions to West Michigan




Guest article
by Nicholas Dondzila
Straub, Seaman and Allen, P.C. 


The Federalist Society, a group of conservatives and libertarians, had a successful year here in West Michigan. We have seen an increase in events, participation, and interest in the Chapter and its mission. There has been provoking discussion on constitutional issues, judicial matters, and topics impacting the State of Michigan and the entire nation alike.  These issues are at the heart of our legal and political landscape, which makes the Federalist Society’s role of providing a forum for meaningful debate and discussion increasingly important.  We look forward to building on the foundation that has been laid this year and continuing to advance the purpose of the Federalist Society.

The Federalist Society seeks to promote an awareness of the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.  These principles were brought to life through a variety of activities and events by the West Michigan Federalist Society.  Here are some of the highlights:

Open Forum Discussion with Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Michigan Supreme Court

Chief Justice Young joined the West Michigan Chapter for an insightful discussion of the role of the judiciary in the legal system.  Justice Young commented on the tension between elections and appointments, noting that elections often create an opportunity for the public to become better acquainted with elected officials. The event also included discussion on the role of the judiciary in applying the plain language of laws and importance of judicial restraint. Justice Young continued the discussion through an open question and answer session.

Constitution Day Celebration with Michigan Supreme Court Justice David Viviano and Charles Stimson of the Heritage Foundation

Justice Viviano gave remarks on his first few months on the Michigan Supreme Court.  He

commented on the transition from sitting on the Macomb County Circuit Court and the challenges associated with serving on Michigan’s highest court.

Mr. Stimson engaged the Chapter in a discussion regarding foreign detainee issues, war crimes, and a variety of constitutional topics.  With a decorated professional career as an Assistant United States Attorney, time in the Department of Defense, and as a member of the United States Navy, Mr. Stimson provided insight on the decision making process in Washington, D.C.  The event also included a detailed discussion of Mr. Stimson’s work with Guantanamo Bay detainees and the different burdens and standards of proof between civil, criminal, and military proceedings.

Notably, a board, consisting of Steve MacGuidwin, Hannah Naltner, Jason Miller, Toby Koenig, Brad Fowler, and Nick Dondzila, has been created to ensure the Federalist Society excitement and momentum continue in the right direction.  All of these individuals are committed to the West Michigan Chapter and serve as a resource for the entire chapter. If you have any questions, inquiries, or interest in getting involved, feel free to contact

Nick Dondzila at ndondzila@lawssa.com.

Coming Up!  Federalist Society/ACLU Debate on the use of Affirmative Action in Higher Education 

Please date your calendars for March 18, 2014, for a debate regarding affirmative action in higher education.  This event will feature John J. Bursch of Warner, Norcross and Judd and Mark Fancher of the American Civil Liberties Union.  The event will be held at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Grand Rapids Campus, and begin at 5:30 p.m.  Join us for what will certainly be an exciting and interesting discussion on one of the nation’s most widely debated legal issues!  RSVP to Nick Dondzila at ndondzila






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