The Golden Age that Never Was: Catholic Law Schools from 1930-1960 and the Question of Identity
7 J. Catholic Social Thought 489 (2010)
34 Pages Posted: 17 May 2016
Date Written: May 01, 2010
This essay reviews part of the history of Catholic legal education and shows that, while the promise of a distinctively Catholic form of legal education was never fulfilled, the idea to provide students at Catholic law schools with such an experience was proposed and widely publicized by a number of leading Catholic academics. Yet the proposal was never realized. The call for reform of Catholic legal education went unanswered. We argue that a variety of causes account for the failure of the proposal. These factors made the vision of Catholic law schools as centers of Thomistic natural law theory seem an unnecessary distraction that might jeopardize the success these schools had already managed to achieve. We lastly offer some initial thoughts on the significance of this history with respect to the current debate concerning the identity of Catholic law schools.
Keywords: Catholic legal education, legal education, Thomism, legal realism
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