The most famous student or graduate of Regent University School of Law, the conservative law school founded by the American televangelist Pat Robertson, is probably the fabulous Monica Goodling. If you’re on Facebook, you can join her fan club here.
But a husky, heavily tattooed
freak-show 2L is giving La Goodling a run for her money. From the Virginian-Pilot:
Regent University officials have threatened to discipline a law student for posting on his Facebook page an unflattering photo of Regent President Pat Robertson.
The student, Adam M. Key, defended his action as constitutionally protected free speech in a 14-page legal brief he presented to the dean of the law school.
Regent officials gave Key two choices: publicly apologize for posting the picture and refrain from commenting about the matter in a “public medium,” or write a brief defending the posting. He faces punishment that could include expulsion.
Key, a second-year law student, said he refused to apologize and “be muzzled” by the university, so he composed the document, which includes citations from noted First Amendment cases.
More after the jump.
So what exactly was this “unflattering” photo?
The picture, posted on Key’s Facebook social-networking Web page, shows Robertson making what appears to be an obscene hand gesture. Key copied it from a YouTube video in which Robertson scratches his face with the middle finger of his right hand. The video is edited to freeze the frame in that position for several seconds. The YouTube version has had more than 2,300 page views.
You can check out the video, which is rather underwhelming, by clicking here.
Normally we are strong supporters of student free speech. But in this case, we have four words for Adam Key: YOU GO TO REGENT. Pull your head out of your ass, get those tattoos surgically removed, and start memorizing some Bible verses.
Legal experts said that Regent, as a private university, has the right to impose punishment if it determines Key violated standards of conduct he agreed to observe when he enrolled at the school.
Unlike public institutions, private universities do not have to adhere to First Amendment guarantees in enacting codes of student conduct, said Howard Wasserman, visiting associate professor at the Saint Louis University School of Law.
And what about all those darn tattoos?
Key, a bearded 23-year-old with a tableau of tattoos, would seem an odd fit at the evangelical Christian institution Robertson founded in 1978. Key, a Lutheran, describes himself as a “liberal Christian” who heads the campus’ small “Christian Left” organization.
The tattoos reflect his passion for justice and the legal system. The colorful jumble of images features the U.S. Constitution written on a scroll, the Magna Carta, the Torah, phrases such as “due process,” and men of principle such as Martin Luther, Sir Thomas More and former Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
As one of our readers quipped, “If YOU loved due process, you’d have it tattooed on your bicep too.”
So why did Adam Key go to Regent in the first place?
Key, who is from Texas, said he had wanted to attend a Christian institution with a law school accredited by the American Bar Association, such as Regent. One motivating factor, he said, was “the opportunity to show people that liberalism isn’t a sin.”
Well, that depends upon your denomination. Maybe Key should look into transferring, and let Regent be Regent.
(But since he’s already a second-year student, and has a GPA “close to 3.0,” that might not be in the cards.)
P.S. It’s official: according to the just-released Princeton Review law school rankings, Regent Law School is #1 when it comes to the conservatism of its student body. It’s followed by Ave Maria and BYU.
Regent student gets flak for Robertson photo on Web site [The Virginian-Pilot]
Pat Robertson flips the bird [YouTube]
Princeton Review’s Best 170 Law Schools [TaxProf Blog]