CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, May 21, 2007

Conservative Christian Law Schools on the Rise Thanks to Falwell and Others

From Some may have found it curious when Rev. Jerry Falwell's new Liberty University School of Law recently unveiled a $1 million teaching courtroom featuring exact-to-the-inch replicas of the U.S. Supreme Court bench and the lectern and counsel tables facing it. But Liberty faculty and students understood perfectly: Falwell intended his students to be well prepared to argue before and, ultimately, to serve on the highest court in the land.

Falwell, the prominent televangelist and father of the Moral Majority who founded Liberty University in 1971, died less than a week before the school granted its first law degrees to 50 graduates on Saturday. But his dream of "training a new generation of lawyers, judges, educators, policymakers and world leaders in law from the perspective of an explicitly Christian worldview" remains very much alive.

And that's true not just at Liberty, with its evangelical Baptist heritage, but at a growing number of conservative Christian law schools, such as the Ave Maria School of Law in Ann Arbor, Mich., which graduated its first class in 2003; the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, which graduated its first class in 2004; and Barry University School of Law in Orlando, founded in 1999 -- all Catholic schools. Televangelist Pat Robertson's 21-year-old evangelical Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Va., was one of the first of this new wave of schools, while Liberty is the youngest. All of them are either fully or provisionally accredited by the American Bar Association.

"It's a really good and healthy development in legal education," said John Garvey, dean of the Boston College Law School, a Jesuit school, and president-elect of the Association of American Law Schools.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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