Paul L. Caron

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Legal Education, Religious and Secular: The Trinity Western University Controversy and Beyond

Carissima Mathen (University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law) & Michael Plaxton (University of Saskatchewan, College of Law), Legal Education, Religious and Secular: TWU and Beyond:

TrinityThere has been a vigorous argument in Canada over whether a private Christian educational institution, Trinity Western University (TWU), should be able to open an accredited law school. TWU has come under scrutiny for requiring faculty, students and staff to sign a Community Covenant [FAQ] promising not to engage in a set of biblically prohibited activities, including sexual contact outside of heterosexual marriage. Arguing that the Covenant is discriminatory, many oppose the law school. Their objections have precipitated debates in both academic and regulatory settings.

This paper does not engage with the various constitutional and human rights issues at stake in the TWU controversy. Instead, it engages in a broader discussion of Canadian legal education – its existing conventions, animating aims, and relationship to the legal profession. Though we have deep concerns about the TWU Covenant, and its effect on gay and lesbian students, we also have concerns about the way in which some of the objections to TWU’s law school have been framed. In criticizing TWU, secular law schools and academics should be wary of setting out standards that, in their own institutions, they do not purport to observe.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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I understand the two sides to this issue, but it sure seems like anti-religious prejudice to me, I don't think it would kill them to have one school that thinks differently.

Posted by: michael livingston | Jun 2, 2014 4:59:01 AM

I have been following the TWU issue for awhile now - being Canadian educated and barred, but teaching at a law school in the US, I have a particular interest. There are no private law schools in Canada, so this is quite a new thing...

Posted by: LM | Jun 1, 2014 4:40:50 PM