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You Are the Last Line of Defense

Months ago, I was asked to give a lecture at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention. It was a surprising invitation for a number of reasons. First, I am not a…

Months ago, I was asked to give a lecture at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention. It was a surprising invitation for a number of reasons. First, I am not a lawyer. Second: I am not a member of the Federalist Society—the prominent conservative and libertarian legal organization. (If the name rings a bell it’s probably because you’ve heard of it in the context of the hearings of any of the conservative justices who currently sit on the court.) 

Third: If you look at the people who previously gave this particular lecture—Supreme Court Justices, Attorney Generals, people like Bill Barr, Don McGahn, and John Roberts—the idea that I would be on that list seemed nuts.

But I accepted. Mostly because I was being asked to give the Barbara K. Olson lecture. Olson was 45 years old, a lawyer and a political commentator at the top of her game when she boarded American Airlines flight 77 on September 11, 2001.

She was flying to Los Angeles that day so she could appear on Bill Maher’s show Politically Incorrect, and because she had changed her flight to have a birthday dinner with her husband, Ted. Barbara was murdered along with 3,000 other Americans that day. She managed to summon the composure, courage and clarity to call her husband twice in those horrifying moments before the plane slammed into the Pentagon. 

Her husband, Ted Olson, has among the most impressive resumes you’ll find. But most important to me and my family: he argued in support of gay marriage in front of the Supreme Court.

I had many ideas for this lecture before October 7. But after the world-transforming events of that day, I felt there was only one thing to talk about: the fight for the West.

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