Students Witness Dean's Testimony Before Congress

June 30, 2006

Several students from Liberty University School of Law recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to listen to Mathew D. Staver, Interim Dean and Founder/Chairman of Liberty Counsel, testify before the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution. Dean Staver supports proposed legislation, the Public Expression of Religion Act of 2005, which would prohibit damages and attorneys’ fees from being awarded plaintiffs in Establishment Clause claims. If the proposed legislation is passed, “a plaintiff who files suit and wins under the Establishment Clause would be entitled to an injunction,” according to a Liberty Counsel press release.

Dean Staver commented: “The Public Expression of Religion Act is long overdue. The threat of attorney’s fees and damages has been wielded like a bully club to beat local government officials into submission, even when the church-state claims are outrageous and frivolous. When the Supreme Court candidly admits that its Establishment Clause decisions are ‘hopelessly confused,’ how can we expect local government officials to navigate in the dark and then hit them with financial penalties?”

Dean Staver was one of four witnesses at the hearing. Each gave a statement followed by intense questioning. Witnesses included: Rees Lloyd, Commander, District 21, The American Legion; Marc Stern, General Counsel, American Jewish Congress; and Professor Patrick Garry, Associate Professor of Law, University of South Dakota School of Law.

This opportunity allowed students to see first-hand how the legislative system functions. Janna Carter, a second-year law student and intern at Liberty Counsel, commented: “I got to watch Dean Staver argue his point and be asked tough questions in front of a subcommittee of Congress. Afterwards, I met Congressmen Hostettler of Indiana. This was one of the most amazing experiences I've had since law school. Everyone was so willing to meet us and offer to help in any way possible.”

Liberty University School of Law was founded by Chancellor Dr. Jerry Falwell. It offers a three-year juris doctorate program and is committed to academic and professional excellence in the context of the Christian intellectual tradition.