Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Road Not Taken: Catholic Legal Education at the Middle of the Twentieth Century

Some time back Marc DeGirolami noted (here) that Lee Strang and I had recently published an article on the history of Catholic law schools in the American Journal of Legal History.  We only just last week received a PDF of the article which is entitled The Road Not Taken: Catholic Legal Education at the Middle of the Twentieth Century.  The piece is now available on the hyperlink text above and in the column at the right-hand side of the MOJ webpage.

In the article we explore the fact that a serious proposal for the reform of Catholic legal education was made by several prominent Catholic legal academics in the 1930s and 1940s – a proposal that would have made Catholic law schools more distinctively Catholic.  Yet the proposal was never adopted in earnest by even one school such that Catholic law schools continued to mimic their non-Catholic and secular peers in ways that were both beneficial and debilitating.  In the article we explore the various reasons behind the failure of the reform effort.

This article is part of a larger, book-length project that Lee and I are engaged in – to write a comprehensive history of Catholic legal education in the United States.  We will present a draft of the next chapter in the story covering the period from 1960-1990 at the upcoming conference on The Competing Claims of Law and Religion hosted by Pepperdine University School of Law and its Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion and Ethics, February 23-23, 2012.

We welcome feedback on the project as a whole, and this particular installment of it, from all interested readers.


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Great article. As a law student at a Catholic law school that is struggling with its Catholic identity, this hits home. Our dean has announced this week that our one journal that actually cares about Catholic jurisprudence, the Journal of Law, Philosophy, and Culture, is being cancelled. Rather sad, as one of the reasons I chose a Catholic law school over a secular law school was the chance to be on a journal like this, but now I won't have that opportunity.

Posted by: Catholic Law Student | Jan 27, 2012 5:51:12 PM

Catholic Law Student -- sad news, indeed. I am familiar with that journal's content, and in my view, it was superb. I am very sorry to hear that it has been cancelled.

Posted by: Marc DeGirolami | Jan 28, 2012 10:35:15 AM

Great article, although one would think that if it is true that "a faculty member well grounded in Christian Ethics and his Faith" would be equipped to challenge the erroneous philosophies of Positive Law, a Priest who is grounded in Christian ethics and his Faith, having studied Theology, which is grounded in The Truth of Love, would be well equipped and thus qualified to contribute to the development of Catholic Legal theory. I think, when you actually think about it, in this regard James Connor was mistaken, for to suggest that Theology only deals with generalities, is to fail to recognize that that which may appear to be quite simple, can also be profound, God so Loved the World..., which is why there is something and not nothing.

Posted by: N.D. | Jan 28, 2012 10:51:39 AM

To be clear, by Theology, I mean Catholic Theology.

Posted by: N.D. | Jan 28, 2012 10:53:48 AM