Is there anything wrong with a fundamentalist religion-centered law school?

Note: I wasn’t sure where to put this, because while I can see it turning pitworthy, I think there’s enough meat to make it a debate. So we shall see where it goes – and my apologies to the mods if I guessed incorrectly.

From the Chicago Sun Times: Falwell Opening His Own Law School

Okay. Part of me automatically chafes at the thought of any school being run according to the dogma of someone who’s as much of a religious fruitcake as Falwell is. A law school? That gives me the willies.

And yet … I can’t articulate any good reason why this is a problem, other than the instinctive distrust – and disgust – I feel towards Falwell (which is hardly a valid argument). Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m also reacting this way because I believe, as Mr. Conn said, that it’s inappropriate and dangerous to mix federal/state laws with religious doctrine.

Then again, I suppose some of our laws (particularly local ones) may be based on the Judeo-Christian beliefs of various individuals in power – such as the Blue laws being mentioned in another GD thread.

Besides, is that really what Falwell’s doing? He wants to foster attorneys who’ll advocate from a certain position. I may loathe this position, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Besides, I’m a hypocrite, because honestly? I’d have no problem with, say, the Rev. Jesse Jackson opening a law school that focuses on the legal issues of civil rights, reparations, affirmative action, etc.

Of course those are legit legal issues, not religious ones, even if Jackson is a religious guy. Okay so maybe I’m not as big a hypocrite as I think I am. (At least not because of this.)

So enough about me. What are your thoughts on this new school? Not just the visceral reaction most (sane :D) people have to Jerry Falwell – what are the legal, constitutional and social ramifications – if any – of creating what amounts to an army of fundamentalist lawyers armed with Black’s Law Dictionary and a Bible?

Are the diplomes these students receive valid according to the US law? It seems to me that when teaching Law while mixing it up with a certain religion this can’t be in accordance with a normal and recognized university curriculum.

Would for example a university doing the same but with instead of the Falwell Bible Interpretation taking an Islamic law school (=Shari’a law school) as its standard for teaching Law be able to get its diplomes validated? Or even if they only take Al Qur’an as their standard for teaching Law?

Salaam. A

shrug Yeah, you’re a hypocrite. I gotta give you props for admitting it, though.

It’s not like they are proposing teaching the Bible and ignoring the laws of the land. It’s simply a law school with a Christian worldview. This isn’t the first Christian school to get a law school. Now there will be one more. Big deal.

Even BYU has a law school and Utah looks like it’s doing okay with all those “dangerous” Mormon lawyers running around :slight_smile:

Nothing wrong with it as far as I can see.

Aldebaran, so long as the curriculum meets the standards set by the requisite accreditation body (I forget which one does law schools), it doesn’t matter if they include in their curriculum additional, faith-based subjects.

IOW, so long as the school teaches its students what the law is, it doesn’t matter if they also teach its students what the faculty/board of governors think the law should be.


Makes about as much sense as Feminist Physics.

I don’t like the idea. Lawyers shouldn’t be on a mission from God. They should serve the law of the land first, and their clients second, at least when they’re working. I have no problem with a lawyer holding fervent religious beliefs outside of work, but they should be on a crusade or jihad during the course of their employment.

An allegiance to God above all else in the course of their practice is not what you want in a lawyer. It creates conflicting loyalties and may reduce their ability to serve the law and serve their clients. How can one expect an evangelical Christian of the Falwell school to uphold the law of abortions as it currently stands, for example, or to defend a client accused of something against God’s law?

As an aside:

Harvard’s churning out lefties now? Well, I guess that accounts for those bleeding heart liberals, George W Bush and Antonin Scalia!

Yes. They should :wink: .

Seriously though, I agree with everything else you said.

I think it’s a grand idea. I wonder if they’ll offer minority scholarships to atheists.

It is if you’re a fundamentalist.

You may need to brush up on how our government works. Lawyers do not “uphold” laws. They serve their clients in whatever ways the law allows.

There are already dozens of faith-based law organizations:

What the OP is suggesting that people ought not have the right to even argue on behalf of a certain worldview … think that over for a few minutes.
The only possible source for concern is that lawyers can become judges. But even judges have to abide by the law as it’s written. Still, this might cause one to begin to see the merits of a “strict constructionist” approach to jurisprudence.

I don’t see that this is really anything to worry about. The religious right is going to have its advocates anyway. If they can pass the bar exam, then it doesn’t really matter where they got their education from, and think about it- if you’re facing off against another attorney in a SOCAS case, would you rather face a guy who was trained at Harvard or at Jerry Falwell University. I say it’s better for religious zealots to get their training at a clown college than a legitimate one. There’s less chance they’ll be competent enough to do any damage.

Didn’t pat Robertson start some sort of religious advocacy group of his own. ACLJ? ACJL? Something like that? Basically a parody of the ACLU that tries to chip away at SOCAS?

What other folks have said. Most states require ABA accredation for graduates to sit for the bar exam (some states, like California, allow local non-accredited school graduates to sit as well), and all attorneys must pass the bar exam to practice. The fact that it’s Falwell’s school won’t change the fact that graduates will still need to know the difference between a tort and a crime, the elements of a contract, etc, etc, etc. If they want to represent their clients effectively, they’ll still have to know and argue from existing legal precedents. Just because they have their own personal biases doesn’t make them exempt from the basic requirements of professional competence.

I think my law degree might help with that first bit, and it’s your gummint, not mine, ye danged yankee.

I don’t know how these things are taught in the US, but the prevailing school of thought over here is that a lawyer is an officer of the court first, and an adviser to / servant of their client second. That is, their primary and overriding duty is to the law. Is this the case in the US?

I’m not sure what you are trying to say here. Do you think a university founded by Falwell (FWIW, I’m no fan) will suddenly cause law students to blur the line between their faith and the practice of law? Surely you know that the country is full of lawyers who are deeply religious, of different faiths, and who practice their craft within the confines of the law.

There is enough real evil in the world than to conjur up imaginary ones, like lawyers being turned out to start a legal jihad. (Even so, a lawyer still has to appear before judges, civil or criminal, who are not likely to be members of the jihad)

As to clown institutions, there are many first rate universities that have religious affiliations. The University of Chicago, one of the finest universities in the world, was founded as a baptist institution and had, if I remember correctly, a preacher for it’s first president. (William Harper Rainey)

Only time will tell if Falwell’s college becomes a first rate institution. If so, it will take a couple decades, minumum. In the meantime, if it turns out good lawyers, of any political persuasion, that’s fine. The republic is not in any danger.

(And of course any lawyer can go his own path…I believe Scalia did go to Harvard, a school not known for it’s conservative bias. (I believe GWB went to Yale not Harvard))

What Dewey said.

After all there already exist religiously affiliated law schools, even to the point of making the doctrine part of the curriculum. But as long as they teach The Law to the satisfaction of the regulatory authority, they’re in the clear.

Aldebaran, a course teaching Shari’a alone, exclusively on Qur’an/Hadith/Sunna authority, would not get accredited as a civil Law Degree. A University teaching a full ABA-approved JD degree and then adding a Certificate or Masters in Shari’a would be fine
One thing that I do find distasteful is Falwell’s statement about “infiltrating the culture”. It has a faint whiff of dishonesty, as in “we’ll teach you how to give answers to the Bar Examination so they pass you, but then as soon as you’re in, we’ll do things the Bible way”; plus it is silly to claim that FC’s are some sort of underground movement that has to “infiltrate”. As far as I can tell there is no grievious deficiency of Christian, or Secular Conservative, lawyers in the land.

Could be an interesting trend. 40% of Kerry’s contributions for his Democratic race came from trial lawyers.

Magiver, may I have a cite, please?

And if you think there is something wrong with trial lawyers, could you please expound on it?

Actually I think it was Edwards who enjoyed such loyalty. You need a site for irony?

Nothing wrong with Trial Lawyers that a sense of humor couldn’t fix.

Actually, that’s probably a valid percentage for Edward’s during the Primary, but not even close for Kerry. I don’t really find it that surprising that trial lawyers give a lot of money to a trial lawyer running for President, but if you find it ironic, so be it.

Since you find the irony that I seem to be missing, what would you say if I showed that the vast majority of baseball team owners contributed to Bush for this election? Would their sense of humor fix that?

Hell, I’m guessing that if I ran for President, I’d get a lot of computer programmer’s contributions.

No No, the Irony would be a bunch of Jerry Falwell lawyers contributing the money. Sheeshh gotta explain a one liner.

Ok, there were 2 trial lawyers who walked into a bar and the first one says “my client can beat your client in court”. and the 2nd one says “really, how much is he paying”.