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Critics: Law Review Hijacked By Right

Has the North Dakota Law Review been hijacked by national religious right activists bent on stopping gay marriage? That is the accusation of some North Dakota lawyers after receiving the latest issue, according to a report in the Grand Forks Herald. The latest issue, published two weeks ago, features a symposium on the "future of the family." Of the issue's six guest articles, five are by authors who are affiliated with church-based law schools or organizations that oppose gay marriage.

One article, "Does the Family Have a Future?", is by William C. Duncan, director of the Marriage Law Foundation, an advocacy group that provides legal resources "to defend and protect marriage." Another, "Griswold and the Defense of Traditional Marriage," is by Bradley P. Jacob, a professor at the Christian law school Regent University, where he teaches Christian foundations of law. Other authors include another Regent faculty member, Steven W. Fitschen, and two Brigham Young University law professors Lynn D. Wardle and Richard Wilkins.

The issue prompted Mary Seaworth, a lawyer in Grand Forks, to write a letter to the state bar's executive director. "I was appalled to see almost the entire issue authored by a very narrow, biased and distorted view of the law," she wrote. "To publish such a biased issue appears to be a serious error of judgment." Another lawyer, Mike Gjesdahl of Fargo, circulated an e-mail accusing the law review of "passing off editorializing and theological perspective as academic work ... [and] bringing shame upon us."

The uproar grew so loud that Paul LeBel, dean of the University of North Dakota School of Law, posted a letter on the school's Web site defending the issue. The journal's editorial board issued a public call for papers and personally solicited prospective authors to contribute, but "only a few authors accepted the invitation to be part of this volume." He added: "I am confident that the Law Review continues to be committed to presenting diverse viewpoints on such important topics, and remains willing to include perspectives critical of those expressed in the current volume."

Utter nonsense, writes KipEsquire at the blog A Stitch in Haste:

Law reviews, like all academic journals, have absolute as well as relative standards. Before you even reach the question of 'Which submissions are the best?' comes the precedent question of 'Which submissions haven't we tossed in the trash because they were hopelessly worthless gobbledygook?'

The editor of the symposium, Patrick Dixon, told the Grand Forks Herald that he had to work with articles submitted based on the call for submissions put out by the prior year's editorial board. "It wasn't supposed to be an issue about gay marriage," he said. The prior year's editor could not be reached for comment, the newspaper said.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on August 1, 2008 at 12:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)

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