Wednesday, September 24, 2008
For better or worse, many MOJ posts during this presidential season (as, indeed, during the last presidential season) have become briefs for supporting, or for opposing, a presidential candidate.
George Will, as many MOJ-readers know, is Catholic. He is also very conservative, and he is the parent of a child (who is now an adult) with Down's syndrome.
George Will published a piece yesterday in the newspaper for which he writes, the Washington Post, explaining why he opposes the election of John McCain.
You can read Will's column, here.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Shortly after posting yesterday about the card "Announcing Dean Eric A. Chiappinelli," Dean Chiappinelli emailed me regarding what's really going in terms of the Jesuit Catholic mission of Creighton Law. Dean Chiappinelli assures me that the Jesuit Catholic identity is important both to him and to his faculty. His welcome page on the Creighton Law homepage does include this: “[W]hat makes Creighton truly distinctive are the timeless values that infuse our approach to legal education. These values, which start with our Jesuit, Catholic identity, mark Creighton graduates as particularly called to serve others and as lawyers dedicated to civic engagement and to social progress.” He writes that this is a theme that he emphasizes in person. He then adds (and I quote with his permission): "I also highlighted our Jesuit Catholic aspects in a long interview with the Omaha legal newspaper (I’m taking the liberty of attaching a PDF of that interview so you can judge for yourself). I could go on (e.g. I could tell you about our 1L orientation that includes a unit on Jesuit higher ed, or the fact that Creighton sent four of our 28 faculty to the RALS conference in April, or that the law school will have the first incumbent of a University endowed chair for visiting Jesuits) but I’m sure you get the picture."
I am sincerely grateful to know what I didn't know from the card I received in the mail or from the Creighton Law mission statement: the Jesuit Catholic mission of Creighton law is important to Dean Chiappinelli. I wonder, though, what the content of "Jesuit Catholic" is. What difference does it make? How do Creighton Law faculty understand their work in relationship to the unifying disciplines of philosophy and theology? Does Creighton law actively seek engaged Catholics to join its faculty? Does it seek faculty whose work brings the Catholic perspective to bear on issues of contemporary legal and social concern? Does it see itself as part of the apostolate of a religious order? Do its students hear anything about TRUTH (cf. "value-centered")that they wouldn't hear but for the "Jesuit Catholic" identity?
As we know, there is no complete model of Catholic legal education to look back to. The deans and faculties of Catholic law schools that aspire to be Catholic today must shape their institutions' identities without benefit of a pattern. Catholics know how to think about colleges and universities, but they grow unsteady when they are asked about professional legal education. I again express our collective willingness to join with Dean Chappinelli and his faculty in dialogue about how to show ourselves and the world that our law schools are the work of people who have a mission, of people who are sent.
Doug Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, responds to Doug Kmiec's defense of Barack Obama's opposition to the Born Alive Act:
As legislative director for National Right to Life, I have been closely attentive to the Born-Alive Infants Protection legislation since its inception. The material on this subject in the Kmiec book contains so many misstatements regarding the Born-Alive Infant Protection bills, laced together with non sequiturs, that it is difficult to know where to begin.
Here, from Sandro Magister, is the latest on Pope Pius XII. The article, which highlights a recent article in La Civilta Cattolica, discusses the legacy of Pius XII. Pius has been unfairly maligned for his actions during WW II. This latest briefly explores his cautious legacy as Secretariat of State. Perhaps these articles are the beginning of a measured response to Pius XII. Pope Bendict has recently praised Pius XII and it seems likely that Pius XII will eventually be canonized. His life was marked by great holiness and an admirable record on many issues. The report of his caution during his years prior to his papacy demonstrates that the life of an individual is often marked by great complexity and ambiguity. One is left with a sense of humility about how we would have responded to the pressures of that era. It makes it all the more important to hold up the legacy of heroes such as Thomas More and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and of Pius XII even if particular prudential judgments seem difficult to defend today.
Monday, September 22, 2008
If you're like me and (I'm guessing) most of the rest of the US legal academy, you last week received a card "Annoucning Dean Eric A. Chiappinelli," the new dean of Creighton University School of Law. Among Dean Chiappinelli's "priorities" for his administration is "[m]aking our successes known around the country." What might those successes be?
The card neither says a word nor includes an image that would suggest, let alone claim, that Creighton, or Creighton Law specifically, is or aspires to be a Catholic institution. Under the prior regime, the Creighton Law website said this remarkable thing: "The School of Law is an integral part of Creighton Univesity, providing professional legal education within the framework of a Jesuit University committed to a comprehensive and value-centered education. The faculty of the School believes these commitments are compatible." Holy Ghost! They "believe!" And they believe that "professional legal education" is "compatible" with "value-centered" education carried on within the "framework of a Jesuit University." Last I checked, the website continued to include this breathtaking profession of belief. Will one of Dean Chiappinelli's "successes" be to modify this state of affairs?
The aforementioned state of affairs is especially remarkable given Creighton University's otherwise conspicuously strong commitment to its place in the Catholic Church and tradition. The University's homepage says this (inter alia) about the whole University's commitment to the mission:: "As Catholic, Creighton is dedicated to the pursuit of truth in all its forms and is guided by the living tradition of the Catholic Church." But, as far as the Venn diagrams are concerned, how can Creighton University accomplish its mission while the members of law-school subset of the community are busy assessing the mutual compatibility of legal education and "value-centered" education. And what if value-centered education turns out not to be compatible with legal education? I'm sure there's a lesson here from Dudley and Stephens.
I hope that Dean Chippianelli will join those such as Mark Sargent, John Garvey, Veryl Miles, Patty O'Hara, and Tom Mengler, who, along with their respectives faculties and administrations, are struggling to discern what Catholic legal education can and should be about today. I have already written to Dean Chippianelli to offer our support. The possibility of a great reawakening awaits our friends in Ohama! Or more of the same.
Thanks, Rick for the official welcome back! In some ways, it seems as though I've never been gone, having continued to participate in the conversation as an avid reader and sometimes blogger, vicariously posting through one or another friend on MOJ. I'm back because I believe in the project of Catholic legal theory of which we are all a part, and in the wider conversation concerning the Catholic voice in cultural and political matters in which we all participate. I hope to listen and learn form others while adding my own voice to both the more narrow and the wider conversation AMDG.
I'm delighted to announce that John Breen is (re)joining our merry band here at MOJ. To celebrate, here's a little blast-from-the-past, John's article "Justice and the Jesuit Legal Education: A Critique":
Jesuits need to engage in an honest assessment of the law schools that operate in their name. The heart of this assessment must include an honest conversation about how justice is and is not being taught. If such a conversation were to take place, it would result in something other than the self-laudatory statements of Jesuit law schools now generated for the consumption of alumni and prospective students; statements that celebrate a distinctiveness which does not exist.
There is, however, a distinctiveness that could be realized and worth celebrating. This distinctiveness consists of a law school culture and curriculum informed by serious engagement with the Catholic intellectual tradition, especially pertaining to law and justice. The Jesuit law school could introduce students to varieties of justice, all of which are grounded in human dignity and the common good of society. Without demanding adherence, whether intellectual, religious or otherwise, and without precluding other points of view, the Jesuit law school can offer a rich patrimony of thought in a non-coercive fashion.
If Jesuit law schools continue to fail to engage the tradition which inspired their creation, then they should cease to go by the name "Jesuit" or "Catholic." If, however, Jesuit law schools take up this tradition in earnest, then what are now mere slogans might accurately describe the kind of education they convey and the kind of graduates they hope to produce. If Jesuit law schools see an obligation to introduce students to the Catholic intellectual tradition, then they will offer law students something which secular schools do not. Then they can realistically hope to form "men and women for others." Then the life of these institutions, including Loyola, can again be Ad Majorum Dei Gloriam.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The Sixth Annual Christian Legal Scholar's Symposium will take place Oct. 10-11 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capital Hill as part of the 2008 Christian Lawyer Global Convocation. For details and a schedule for this excellent conference, click here. A National Student Leadership Convention for Christian law students will take place at the same location on the same dates.
It would be fair, and not uncharitable, to say that the plenary and presidential sessions at the AALS annual meeting are not always particularly interesting. This year, though -- thanks, no doubt, in part to the work of Dean John Garvey -- things look to be much better. The theme for the meeting is "Institutional Pluralism." These three panels look quite good:
2:15 – 4:00 p.m.
Association of American Law Schools Presidential Programs
(5360) Presidential Program I - Institutional Pluralism
Speakers: Heather K. Gerken, Yale Law School
R. Kent Greenawalt, Columbia University
Alice Gresham, Howard University School of Law
Sanford Levinson, The University of Texas
Daniel D. Polsby, George Mason University School of Law
Kenneth W. Starr, Pepperdine University School of Law, Moderator
This program is designed to explore the virtues of institutional pluralism, the costs of pursuing that ideal, and the impediments to realizing it. The AALS is an association of self-governing communities whose members pursue a variety of intellectual and social commitments. There are state law schools, religiously affiliated law schools, law schools at historically black colleges and universities, and schools that focus on particular subject matters or points of view. The panelists, who come from a range of such schools, will begin a conversation about how institutional differences affect faculty and students, how they contribute to our intellectual life, and what effects they have on the other values our schools cultivate.
(5370) Presidential Program II - Religiously Affiliated Law Schools
Speakers: Michael Herz, Yeshiva University
Patricia A. O’Hara, Notre Dame Law School, Moderator
Mark A. Sargent, Villanova University School of Law
Bradley J.B. Toben, Baylor University School of Law
Kevin J. Worthen, Brigham Young University
Among the AALS’s 199 member and fee-paid schools there are 49 religiously affiliated law schools. They represent a spectrum of denominations and shades of belief: Catholics, Baptists, Jews, Methodists, Disciples of Christ, Latter Day Saints, and others. How, if at all, are these schools different from their secular counterparts? What effect might the religious commitments and beliefs of the sponsoring faiths have on subject matter, perspective, student life, academic freedom, admissions, hiring, and other issues? What do religiously affiliated law schools contribute to the legal academy and broader legal community?
(5380) Presidential Program III - Associational Pluralism
Speakers: Margaret Martin Barry, The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and Society of American Law Teachers
Michael Brintnall, Executive Director, American Political Science Association, Washington D.C.
Gail Heriot, University of San Diego School of Law and National Association of Scholars, Moderator
Goodwin Liu, University of California, Berkeley and American Constitution Society
John O. Mc Ginnis, Northwestern University, School of Law and The Federalist Society
At AALS Annual Meetings the intellectual life of the legal academy is lived in sections, defined by subject matter and interests. In recent years we have seen a flourishing culture of parallel organizations, often though not always characterized by particular points of view: the Federalist Society, the Society of American Law Teachers, the National Association of Scholars, the Law Professors Christian Fellowship, and the American Constitution Society are just a few examples. Does this phenomenon signal that the AALS is not representing these points of view? Should the AALS try to assimilate these groups, or make more of an effort to accommodate them (without digesting them) in its own framework, or live with the status quo?
Perhaps our own Mark Sargent will give us a sneak preview of his remarks?