Imagine that a little-known but increasingly powerful group of ideologues had hatched a plan to transform the United States into a Christian theocracy harkening back to the Dark Ages of Europe, a time when society was governed by the laws and officials of the Catholic Church.
Suppose further that this plan had a scary simple strategy: Recruit bright, young law students; put them through an intensive indoctrination program; place them in plum internships across the country; and watch as they swim upstream until they reach the top of the legal system, where they can create, enforce, and interpret laws according to a legal philosophy infused with fundamentalist Christian theology.
Now learn that it’s already here. Sofia Resnick and Sharona Coutts at RH Reality Check report:
Welcome to the world of the Blackstone Legal Fellowship, an annual program established in 2000 by the Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based nonprofit that is swiftly emerging as a major behind-the-scenes player in many of the nation’s most controversial legal cases involving reproductive rights, sexual justice, and a vast range of other moral and social disputes.
“[T]he Blackstone Fellowship inspires a distinctly Christian worldview in every area of law, and particularly in the areas of public policy and religious liberty,” states the Alliance’s public tax filing. “With this ongoing program, it’s [the Alliance’s] goal to train a new generation of lawyers who will rise to positions of influence and leadership as legal scholars, litigators, judges—perhaps even Supreme Court Justices—who will work to ensure that justice is carried out in America’s courtrooms.”
In Missouri, a former Blackstone Fellow, Kevin Corlew, is running for the state’s 14th congressional district in this year’s elections. Another, Bradley Cowan, is the chief of the administrative law division at the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky,according to his profile on LinkedIn. And based on our review of public records, the offices of attorneys and solicitors general in at least eight states—Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia—have hosted Blackstones as interns, jobs in which fellows help draft memos and pleadings for the most powerful lawmakers in their states and, more importantly, forge the contacts that will propel them to their own positions of power.
Mind you, it’s a small number of people, however creepy. But it’s insinuated itself into some key places.
Through legal actions and its various legal training programs, the nonprofit focuses on fighting for the criminalization of abortion; against the rights of LGBT people; for so-called religious liberty (which often comes in the form of defending clients who wish to discriminate against gay people based on their religious beliefs); and for organized Christian prayer in government or public-school settings, such as its most recent victory—last week’s Supreme Court ruling upholding legislative prayer in Town of Greece v. Galloway, in which the Alliance represented the plaintiffs.
Theocrats on the march. I don’t like it.