Pat Robertson's Regent University School of Law infiltrates government

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Dirt McGirt, Apr 18, 2007.

  1. Dirt McGirt
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    Dirt McGirt Bad Mother****er

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    Who's the Boss? How Pat Robertson's law school is changing America.
    By Dahlia Lithwick
    Posted Saturday, April 7, 2007, at 6:52 AM ET

    Monica Goodling has a problem. As senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Justice Department liaison to the White House, Goodling no longer seems to know what the truth is. She must also be increasingly unclear about who her superiors are. This didn't used to be a problem for Goodling, now on indefinite leave from the DoJ. Everything was once very certain: Her boss's truth was always the same as God's truth. Her boss was always either God or one of His staffers.

    This week, through counsel, Goodling again refused to testify about her role in the firings of several U.S. attorneys for what appear to be partisan reasons. Asserting her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, Goodling somehow felt she may be on the hook for criminal obstruction. But it was never clear whose truths she was protecting or even whose law seems to have tripped her up. She resigned abruptly Friday evening without explanation.

    Goodling is an improbable character for a political scandal. She's the mirror opposite of that other Monica—the silly, saucy minx who felled Bill Clinton. A 1995 graduate of an evangelical Christian school, Messiah College, and a 1999 graduate of Pat Robertson's Regent University School of Law, Goodling's chief claim to professional fame appears to have been loyalty to the president and to the process of reshaping the Justice Department in his image (and thus, His image). A former career official there told the Washington Post that Goodling "forced many very talented, career people out of main Justice so she could replace them with junior people that were either loyal to the administration or would score her some points." And as she rose at Justice, according to a former classmate, Goodling "developed a very positive reputation for people coming from Christian schools into Washington looking for employment in government."

    Start digging, and Goodling also looks to be the Forrest Gump of no comments: Here she is in 1997, fielding calls from reporters to Regent's School of Government admissions office. Asked whether non-Christians were admitted, she explained that "we admit all students without discrimination. We are a Christian institution; it is assumed that everyone in the classes are Christians." Here, in 2004, she's answering phones at the Justice Department about whether then-Deputy Solicitor General Paul Clement knew about the abuses at Abu Ghraib when he told the Supreme Court that the United States does not torture. Said Goodling, in lieu of taking the Fifth: "We wouldn't have any comment." (Jenny Martinez, who argued against Clement that day at the court, suggested to Salon's Tim Grieve: "When Mr. Clement said to the court that we wouldn't engage in that kind of behavior, either he was deliberately misleading the court or he was completely out of the loop." Sound familiar?)

    Goodling is only one of 150 graduates of Regent University currently serving in this administration, as Regent's Web site proclaims proudly, a huge number for a 29-year-old school. Regent estimates that "approximately one out of every six Regent alumni is employed in some form of government work." And that's precisely what its founder desired. The school's motto is "Christian Leadership To Change the World," and the world seems to be changing apace. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft teaches at Regent, and graduates have achieved senior positions in the Bush administration. The express goal is not only to tear down the wall between church and state in America (a "lie of the left," according to Robertson) but also to enmesh the two.

    The law school's dean, Jeffrey A. Brauch, urges in his "vision" statement that students reflect upon "the critical role the Christian faith should play in our legal system." Jason Eige ('99), senior assistant to Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell, puts it pithily in the alumni newsletter, Regent Remark: "Your Résumé Is God's Instrument."

    This legal worldview meshed perfectly with that of former Attorney General John Ashcroft—a devout Pentecostal who forbade use of the word "pride," as well as the phrase "no higher calling than public service," on documents bearing his signature. (He also snatched the last bit of fun out of his press conferences when he covered up the bared breasts of the DoJ statue the "Spirit of Justice"). No surprise that, as he launched a transformation of the Justice Department, the Goodlings looked good to him.

    One of Ashcroft's most profound changes was to the Civil Rights Division, launched in 1957 to file cases on behalf of African-Americans and women. Under Ashcroft, career lawyers were systematically fired or forced out and replaced by members of conservative or Christian groups or folks with no civil rights experience. In the five years after 2001, the civil rights division brought no voting cases on behalf of African-Americans. It brought one employment case on behalf of an African-American. Instead, the division took up the "civil rights" abuses of reverse discrimination—claims of voter fraud or discrimination against Christians. On Feb. 20, Gonzales announced a new initiative called the First Freedom Project to carry out "even greater enforcement of religious rights for all Americans." In his view, the fight for a student's right to read a Bible at school is as urgent a civil rights problem as the right to vote.

    We may agree or disagree on that proposition, but it certainly explains how Goodling came to confuse working to advance Gonzales' agenda with working to advance God's. But while God may well want more prayer in the public schools, it's not clear He wanted David Iglesias fired on a pretext. In an excellent 2005 article about Regent in the American Prospect Online, Christopher Hayes points out that more than two-thirds of the students at Regent identified as Republicans, and only 9 percent identified as Democrats. As he concludes, "what students are taught at a place like Regent, or even Calvin and Wheaton, is to live out a Christ-centered existence in all facets of their lives. But what they learn is to become Republicans."

    Is there anything wrong with legal scholarship from a Christian perspective? Not that I see. Is there anything wrong with a Bush administration that disproportionately uses graduates from such Christian law schools to fill its staffing needs? Not that I see. It's a shorthand, not better or worse than cherry-picking the Federalist Society or the bar association. I can't even get exercised over the fact that Gonzales, Rove, and Miers had their baby lawyers making critical staffing decisions for them. The baby lawyers had extremely clear marching orders.

    No, the real concern here is that Goodling and her ilk somehow began to conflate God's work with the president's. Probably not a lesson she learned in law school. The dream of Regent and its counterparts, like Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, is to redress perceived wrongs to Christians, to reclaim the public square, and reassert Christian political authority. And while that may have been a part of the Bush/Rove plan, it was, in the end, only a small part. Their real zeal was for earthly power. And Goodling was left holding the earthly bag.

    At the end of the day, Goodling and the other young foot soldiers for God may simply have run afoul of the first rule of politics, codified in Psalm 146: "Put no trust in princes, in mere mortals in whom there is no help."
    http://www.slate.com/id/2163601/
     
  2. Dirt McGirt
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    Dirt McGirt Bad Mother****er

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    I don't have a problem with Christians or Christian schools. As long as they are qualified to do the job that's fine by me. But this sort of selective preferential treatment towards Christian graduates falls along the same lines as Affirmative Action.
     
  3. Bullypulpit
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    Bullypulpit Senior Member

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    That they are graduates of Regent University Law school and self-proclaimed "Christians" is coincidental. What is not coincidental is their placing of loyalty to president, party and religion above their loyalty to the law and the Constitution. But that has been the pattern of the Bush administration since day one. Competence, for the Bush administration, counts for far less than loyalty.
     
  4. Dirt McGirt
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    It's not as coincidental as you think. Regent University is a Christian school founded by Pat Robertson. I know the undergraduate Regent's program allows people to take all of your college credits from various universities and consolidates it towards one big degree. But the graduate colleges are Christian schools with actual campuses.

    "Located in Virginia Beach, Va., Regent University was founded in 1977 by Robertson, who serves as its president and chancellor. Regent is a fully accredited graduate & undergraduate university that offers degrees in business, communication & the arts, divinity, education, government, law, organizational leadership and psychology & counseling. Regent University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award the bachelor’s, master’s and doctor’s degrees. In addition to the main campus in Virginia Beach, Regent has a Graduate Center in Northern Virginia/D.C. and offers programs online via their Worldwide Campus."
    http://www.regent.edu/acad/undergrad/drpatrobertson/bio.cfm

    Scandal puts spotlight on Christian law school
    Grads influential in Justice Dept.
    By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | April 8, 2007

    VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- The title of the course was Constitutional Law, but the subject was sin. Before any casebooks were opened, a student led his classmates in a 10-minute devotional talk, completed with "amens," about the need to preserve their Christian values.

    "Sin is so appealing because it's easy and because it's fun," the law student warned.

    Regent University School of Law, founded by televangelist Pat Robertson to provide "Christian leadership to change the world," has worked hard in its two-decade history to upgrade its reputation, fighting past years when a majority of its graduates couldn't pass the bar exam and leading up to recent victories over Ivy League teams in national law student competitions.

    But even in its darker days, Regent has had no better friend than the Bush administration. Graduates of the law school have been among the most influential of the more than 150 Regent University alumni hired to federal government positions since President Bush took office in 2001, according to a university website.

    One of those graduates is Monica Goodling , the former top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who is at the center of the storm over the firing of US attorneys. Goodling, who resigned on Friday, has become the face of Regent overnight -- and drawn a harsh spotlight to the administration's hiring of officials educated at smaller, conservative schools with sometimes marginal academic reputations.

    Documents show that Goodling, who has asserted her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid testifying before Congress, was one of a handful of officials overseeing the firings. She helped install Timothy Griffin , the Karl Rove aide and her former boss at the Republican National Committee, as a replacement US attorney in Arkansas.

    Because Goodling graduated from Regent in 1999 and has scant prosecutorial experience, her qualifications to evaluate the performance of US attorneys have come under fire. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, asked at a hearing: "Should we be concerned with the experience level of the people who are making these highly significant decisions?"

    And across the political blogosphere, critics have held up Goodling, who declined to be interviewed, as a prime example of the Bush administration subordinating ability to politics in hiring decisions.

    "It used to be that high-level DOJ jobs were generally reserved for the best of the legal profession," wrote a contributor to The New Republic website . ". . . That a recent graduate of one of the very worst (and sketchiest) law schools with virtually no relevant experience could ascend to this position is a sure sign that there is something seriously wrong at the DOJ."

    The Regent law school was founded in 1986, when Oral Roberts University shut down its ailing law school and sent its library to Robertson's Bible-based college in Virginia. It was initially called "CBN University School of Law" after the televangelist's Christian Broadcasting Network, whose studios share the campus and which provided much of the funding for the law school. (The Coors Foundation is also a donor to the university.) The American Bar Association accredited Regent 's law school in 1996.

    Not long ago, it was rare for Regent graduates to join the federal government. But in 2001, the Bush administration picked the dean of Regent's government school, Kay Coles James , to be the director of the Office of Personnel Management -- essentially the head of human resources for the executive branch. The doors of opportunity for government jobs were thrown open to Regent alumni.

    "We've had great placement," said Jay Sekulow , who heads a non profit law firm based at Regent that files lawsuits aimed at lowering barriers between church and state. "We've had a lot of people in key positions."

    Many of those who have Regent law degrees, including Goodling, joined the Department of Justice. Their path to employment was further eased in late 2002, when John Ashcroft , then attorney general, changed longstanding rules for hiring lawyers to fill vacancies in the career ranks.

    Previously, veteran civil servants screened applicants and recommended whom to hire, usually picking top students from elite schools.

    In a recent Regent law school newsletter, a 2004 graduate described being interviewed for a job as a trial attorney at the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in October 2003. Asked to name the Supreme Court decision from the past 20 years with which he most disagreed, he cited Lawrence v. Texas, the ruling striking down a law against sodomy because it violated gay people's civil rights.

    "When one of the interviewers agreed and said that decision in Lawrence was 'maddening,' I knew I correctly answered the question," wrote the Regent graduate . The administration hired him for the Civil Rights Division's housing section -- the only employment offer he received after graduation, he said.

    The graduate from Regent -- which is ranked a "tier four" school by US News & World Report, the lowest score and essentially a tie for 136th place -- was not the only lawyer with modest credentials to be hired by the Civil Rights Division after the administration imposed greater political control over career hiring.

    The changes resulted in a sometimes dramatic alteration to the profile of new hires beginning in 2003, as the Globe reported last year after obtaining resumes from 2001-2006 to three sections in the civil rights division. Conservative credentials rose, while prior experience in civil rights law and the average ranking of the law school attended by the applicant dropped.

    As the dean of a lower-ranked law school that benefited from the Bush administration's hiring practices, Jeffrey Brauch of Regent made no apologies in a recent interview for training students to understand what the law is today, and also to understand how legal rules should be changed to better reflect "eternal principles of justice," from divorce laws to abortion rights.

    "We anticipate that many of our graduates are going to go and be change agents in society," Brauch said.

    Still, Brauch said, the recent criticism of the law school triggered by Goodling's involvement in the US attorney firings has missed the mark in one respect: the quality of the lawyers now being turned out by the school, he argued, is far better than its image.

    Seven years ago, 60 percent of the class of 1999 -- Goodling's class -- failed the bar exam on the first attempt. (Goodling's performance was not available, though she is admitted to the bar in Virginia.) The dismal numbers prompted the school to overhaul its curriculum and tighten admissions standards.

    It has also spent more heavily to recruit better-qualified law students. This year, it will spend $2.8 million on scholarships, a million more than what it was spending four years ago.

    The makeover is working. The bar exam passage rate of Regent alumni , according to the Princeton Review, rose to 67 percent last year. Brauch said it is now up to 71 percent, and that half of the students admitted in the late 1990s would not be accepted today. The school has also recently won moot-court and negotiation competitions, beating out teams from top-ranked law schools.

    Adding to Regent's prominence, its course on "Human Rights, Civil Liberties, and National Security" is co taught by one of its newest professors: Ashcroft.

    Even a prominent critic of the school's mission of integrating the Bible with public policy vouches for Regent's improvements. Barry Lynn , the head of the liberal Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, said Regent is churning out an increasingly well-trained legal army for the conservative Christian movement.

    "You can't underestimate the quality of a lot of the people that are there," said Lynn, who has guest-lectured at Regent and debated professors on its campus.

    In light of Regent's rapid evolution, some current law students say it is frustrating to be judged in light of Regent alumni from the school's more troubled era -- including Goodling.

    One third-year student, Chamie Riley , said she rejected the idea that any government official who invokes her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination could be a good representative of Regent.

    As Christians, she said, Regent students know "you should be morally upright. You should not be in a situation where you have to plead the Fifth."
    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/a..._spotlight_on_christian_law_school/?page=full
     
  5. Avatar4321
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    Avatar4321 Diamond Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Did you object when Clinton fired all 93 prosecutors, several of which were investigating him, and replacing them with loyal attorneys?

    Yeah, I didn't think so.
     
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  6. William Joyce
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    Next up, following this searing investigation into Christian infiltration, we're going to take a look at Jewish infiltration.

    Oh, wait. No, we're not.
     
  7. GeeWhiz
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    Don't you know either you are with Bush or you are with the United States. Failure to take the Bush loyalty oath will get you canned by Gonzales.
     
  8. Avatar4321
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    Avatar4321 Diamond Member Gold Supporting Member

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    The Administration is responsible for executive duties of the state which includes prosecution of criminals. Why should the administration keep prosecutors they dont feel can uphold that responsibility?
     
  9. Diuretic
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    Diuretic Permanently confused

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    No they want to ignore it. The party above the country. It's how totalitarianism starts.
     
  10. Dirt McGirt
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    Dirt McGirt Bad Mother****er

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    There's a bigger issue than the attorney firings going on here. Seeing how many conservatives are against the idea of affirmative action, why do conservatives look the other way when DOJ hirings are based on religious or moral preference rather than qualifications and credentials? Is there a double standard in that regard?
     
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