May 24, 2007
Regent on trial
Apparently it's a very, very big deal that Monica Goodling went to a law school founded by Pat Robertson.
No one in Washington or in mainstream media outlets seems to be coming right out and saying it, but the implication from much of the reporting and commentary regarding yesterday's House Judiciary Committee testimony of former Justice Department official Monica Goodling seems to be that Christian college graduates shouldn't be permitted in high government positions.
Try to find a news story today that doesn't mention that Goodling is a graduate of Regent University's law school, that the school was founded by Pat Robertson, and that it has a distinctly Christian mission. (Several reports also note that she did her undergraduate work at Messiah College, another distinctly Christian school.)
In fact, Rep. Stephen Cohen (D-Tenn.) spent most of his questions on Goodling's Christian education. Here's the transcript:
COHEN: Miss Goodling, I've read your vitae, and it says that you grew up and you mostly went -- you went to public schools. Was that K through 12?
GOODLING: Mm-hmm. (Affirmative.) Yes.
COHEN: And it says you went -- chose Christian universities in part because they -- value they placed on service. What as the other part that you chose Christian universities?
GOODLING: I chose them because I had a faith system, and in some cases -- I went to American University for my first year of law school and then I transferred. And I enjoyed studying with people that shared the similar belief system that I did. It didn't mean that there wasn't a lot of diversity of discussion, because in some cases I actually found that the debate at Regent was much more vigorous than it was at American University my first year of law school. But I enjoyed being surrounded by people that had the same belief system.
COHEN: The mission of the law school you attended, Regent, is to bring bear -- "is to bring to bear upon legal education and the legal profession the will of Almighty God, our Creator." What is "the will of Almighty God, our Creator" on the legal profession?
GOODLING: I'm not sure that I could define that question for you.
COHEN: Did you ask people who applied for jobs as AUSAs anything about their religion?
GOODLING: No, I certainly did not --
COHEN: Never had religion discussions come up?
GOODLING: Not to the best of my recollection.
COHEN: Is there a type of student, a type of person that you thought was -- embodied that philosophy of Regent University that you sought out as AUSAs?
GOODLING: In most cases, the people at Regent are good people trying to do the right thing, who wanted to make a difference in the world. If the question is, were I looking -- if I was looking for people like that, the answer is yes. I wasn't necessarily looking for people who shared a particular faith system. I don't have any recollection that that entered into my mind at any point. But certainly there are a lot of people who applied to work for this president because they share his same faith system, and they did apply for jobs.
COHEN: Are there a lot of -- an inordinate number of people from Regent University Law School that were hired by the Department of Justice while you were there?
GOODLING: I think we have a lot more people from Harvard and Yale.
COHEN: Well, that's refreshing. Is it a fact -- are you aware of the fact that in your graduating class 50 to 60 percent of the students failed the bar the first time?
GOODLING: I'm not -- I don't remember the statistics, but I know it wasn't good. I was happy I passed the first time.
COHEN: Thank you. That's good.
National Review Online's Byron York noted that Cohen's questioning came shortly after another discussion of higher education:
Earlier, Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee was very concerned that Goodling had asked about the political leanings of a job seeker named Seth Adam Meinero, "a graduate of Howard University, one of the top, outstanding law schools in the nation." (Rep. Cohen did not protest, even though Howard's bar-passing statistics don't measure up to Regent's.) Goodling said she regretted making a "snap judgment" about Meinero's supposed political leanings, although she stressed that Meinero ultimately got the job he was seeking.