Hope for Christian Law Students

Jeffery Ventrella

11/14/2007 12:01:00 AM - Jeffery Ventrella

Imagine you are a young conservative and are enrolled in or admitted to an American law school. Now imagine that you are also a Christian and dare to support traditional values. What will law school be like? And what kind of legal education will you get? Your suspicions are probably right.

If you simply go to class and read the assigned casebooks, the prospects are not good. At most American law schools you will find a culture that heralds abortion and same-sex “marriage,” mocks Justices Scalia and Thomas, and believes that judges should serve as “superlegislators” and enact liberal policy preferences for the “common good.”

The prospects for Christians in law school are even worse. Christianity is often ridiculed, the religious heritage of the Founders is ignored, and many Christian Legal Society chapters have been harassed or decertified for “discriminating” against non-Christians—that is, for requiring that officers be professing Christians.

So what are conservatives and Christians to do?

For starters, these students need to respectfully counter the liberal, “living Constitution” model provided in American law schools with constitutional theories that are actually consistent with the Founding Fathers and a Christian worldview. The Blackstone Legal Fellowship promotes and energizes this endeavor.

This nine-week leadership and development program infuses students with the historical and philosophical foundation that is missing from the American law school education. By addressing the works of the founders, the Judeo-Christian roots of the American legal system, and the belief that many rights are “unalienable” (that government can neither grant nor take away certain rights), the Blackstone Legal Fellowship equips law students to restore the legal culture that the Founders envisioned.

The program consists of three separate phases: a two-week curriculum of constitutional law and Christian worldview; a six-week legal internship with a public interest law firm or similar advocate; and a final capstone week of career envisioning and clerkship preparation.

But why is this necessary? Do Christians need to study law through a particular worldview? Can’t they simply attend our country’s law schools and be “Christian” in their private life?

Unfortunately, the grip of secular humanism on our universities affects everything it touches. A Christian law student still drinks from the tainted cup that passes for a legal education. Rather than enjoy the majesty of the Founders’ beliefs, students generally learn little more than the last half-century of Supreme Court decisions that proclaim “rights” to abortion, sodomy, and the shuttering of religion in public. Many law professors barely blink while professing a constitutional right to nude dancing yet proclaim that the free exercise of religion is an outdated concept or one that should remain private. Thus a return to the thoughts of our Founding Fathers and a Christian perspective on law is vital.

Will students at our law schools learn that Thomas Jefferson wrote a guide to the Gospels and attended worship services in U.S. Capitol? That the First Amendment was meant, in part, to protect religion from the state, and not vice versa? Or of the importance of natural law—that laws created by men must abide by a higher law lest they be unjust, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., rightly argued—in the development of our country and Constitution?

This is unlikely, at best. The modern legal education shuns the heritage of our legal system and history, yet continues to justify and advocate for additional “rights” if they fulfill a secular mindset. It is challenging enough for Christians to simply withstand such indoctrination, let alone to combat it, without a proper foundation and support.

To restore the legal system the Founders intended, we must commit ourselves to restoring truth in American law schools. Men who crafted the Constitution envisioned more than simply books of laws that catalogue our current desires and whims. James Madison said, “It is universally admitted that a well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people.” The Blackstone Legal Fellowship instructs law students in the legal principles and philosophy the Founders thought crucial for the permanence of freedom, a freedom under which everyone flourishes because this envisioned liberty—our First Liberty—frees us to pursue virtue, not vice.