Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The left-behind law school


There have been two programs on npr or kqed radio lately that caught my ear; the above link talks about the Christian law schools Pat Robertson has been funding in an attempt to grab power from the secular institutions. The blogger above doesn't see them as a threat, and articulates a sound argument; but I'm not as convinced about the inertia of the common law and case precedent, which he explains will prevent many of them from pulling off what they want.

Their revisionist history holds that American law is founded upon Christian ideals enumerated in the declaration of independence. Of course, in order for them to believe this, they must first ignore the more important document, the constitution, and in particular the first amendment. Their goal, which is exactly the same as the muslim religious fanatics we are presently at war with, is a society in which religion and government are NOT separate. Lost upon them is the several hundred years of bloody religious warfare that produced the concept of separating church and state.

Apparently these recent attempts by the Christian right are a move away from their former position of predicting the end of the world, now picked up by the idiotic authors of the "left behind" series who are making millions off this low-brow fear-mongering cult. We even have a popular television show based upon this concept.

Unfortunately, Pat Robertson, who was big on the rapture in the seventies, and 'interpreting' religious texts or whatever to predict the end of the world in relation to the mideast situation (because apparently when a conflict appears in that part of the world, it MEANS something, since after all, there is such a shortage of conflicts in the mideast), realized he couldn't make inroads into the government if the end of the world was coming. Hence the change in strategy.

I know enough about the law to know how easily it can be twisted to say something according to the beliefs of the judge. Witness Clarence Thomas and the brilliant Scalia in operation. The law works like this; you find a conclusion and work your way backward to prove it. Logicians are in large part shocked by this. Not only that, we reason by analogy, another really illogical way of approaching a problem. But this is the way philosophy and practice often intersect. If anyone has a better idea, let me know.

That being said, I can pretty much guarantee most of those lawyers are going to be laughed out of the courtroom. They may make inroads as legislators or politicians, but as for being lawyers, I would imagine they will end up drug addicts, suicidal, or addicted to greed and money like most of them. I do not believe that you can bring your personal convictions to the courtroom unless they somewhat match the system.

I'm of the opinion that the worst lawyers are those who are more concerned with being right or showing they are smart than figuring out what is going on. Your emotions will cloud your judgment; you will ignore the weakness of your argument if you are convinced of it's morality. But the law isn't like it is on television. You won't see lawyers making arguments that go like this "It's wrong and I think it's bad because people shouldn't do that!"

I get a wince factor of about 8 every time I see those shows.

Arguments based on public policy are woven together with case law, precedent, and statutory authority. They don't sit out there by themselves. It makes bad drama but good law. Good drama bears little, if any relationship to what is actually happening.

If you are a public defender, you can convince yourself that you are defending this child molestor because you are really defending the constitution. Protecting that kiddie molestor and making sure he goes down by the numbers will also make sure the police don't put away innocent people (which if you can believe it, actually happens...and some of them get executed).

But being a fundie, what hope do you have? Do they honestly think they are going to pick their clients? Will they represents Jews or Muslims?

They are pretty clearly being trained to work for xtian "thinktanks" (incidentally it turns out Dominos pizza is funding Robertsons' law school) who are bent on destroying secular society and converting us all into devout believers. How much impact they will have remains to be seen. I have a feeling they will be absorbed into the legal mainstream the way the Mongols were absorbed by the Chinese. After a generation there were no mongols. After a generation there will be no fundie lawyers.


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