Reflections on Identity, God and Lawyers

14 Pages Posted: 8 May 2018

See all articles by Russell G. Pearce

Russell G. Pearce

Fordham University School of Law

Emily Jenab

Fordham University

Date Written: May 3, 2018


In this essay, we argue that a public sphere that welcomes identity and values offers a way to bolster liberal democracy against the challenge from populist nationalism. We further suggest that religious lawyering offers a preliminary way to assess this proposition. We build on two of Michael Sandel's insights -- that the dominant elite understanding of the Procedural Republic excludes identity and values from the public sphere and that when globalization and technological change cause anxiety, the Procedural Republic lacks the capacity to cultivate the civic virtues necessary to protect liberal democracy from anti-liberal and anti-democratic ideologies. In addition to Sandel's observation that the Procedural Republic fails to promote civility and social solidarity, we suggest that it also encourages an indifference to others, facilitates lawlessness, masks systemic injustices, and promotes demonization of those with differing comprehensive philosophies.

As an alternative to the Procedural Republic, we propose an open public sphere. It provides liberal democracy with the resources found in identities and values, encourages dialogue rather than demonization, and exposes systemic injustice. To examine the advantages and disadvantages of the open public sphere, the Essay uses the example of the religious lawyering literature. Religious lawyering challenges the Procedural Republic's dominant conception of the lawyer's role that seeks to exclude identity and values from a lawyer's work. We suggest that a conception of role that includes identity and values provides resources to support the professional values of treating clients respectfully, acting civilly toward all, and promoting equal rights and equal justice. For example, religious conceptions such as the Golden Rule and the creation of all people in God's image provide the basis for a dialogue inviting those with religiously grounded illiberal values to embrace equal respect for all people.

Suggested Citation

Pearce, Russell G. and Jenab, Emily, Reflections on Identity, God and Lawyers (May 3, 2018). Cosmologics Magazine (2017), Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 3172984, Available at SSRN:

Russell G. Pearce (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States
212-636-6834 (Phone)
212-636-6899 (Fax)

Emily Jenab

Fordham University ( email )

113 West 60th Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

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