Higher Law: Can Christian Conservatives Transform Law Through Legal Education?

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Schools, Conservatism, Students, Law schools, Training, Culture

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Political Science


The allure of law schools as transformative institutions in the United States prompted Christian Right leaders to invest in legal education in the 1990s and early 2000s. The aspiration was to control the training of lawyers in order to challenge the secular legal monopoly on law, policy, and culture. In this article, we examine three leading Christian conservative law schools and one training program dedicated to transforming the law. We ask how each institution seeks to realize its transformative mission and analyze how they organize themselves to produce the kinds of capital (human, intellectual, social, cultural) needed to effectively change the law. To do so, we develop a typology of legal institutionbuilding strategies (infiltration, supplemental, and parallel alternative) to compare the relative advantages and disadvantages of institutional forms. We conclude by discussing implications of our findings for those looking to law schools as sites of broader transformation within the law.

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