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Academics

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The goal of TFAS Summer Law Fellowship academics is to foster a new generation of attorneys that are well-versed in the principles of originalism, limited government and free enterprise so that you might be better equipped to defend the values and ideals of a free society.

Summer law fellows d.c. circuit court tour
Fellows enjoy a tour of the D.C. Circuit Court.

TFAS Summer Law Fellows will take a two-credit hour course at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. The course is taught by one of GMU’s leading legal scholars and it explores the theory and practice of originalism as a method of constitutional interpretation. The course is supplemented by seminar-style sessions on free-market economics so that students will develop a deeper appreciation for the economic and constitutional concepts that underpin a system of limited government and free enterprise.

Hon. Clint Bolick of the Arizona Supreme Court
TFAS alumnus, the Hon. Clint Bolick of the Arizona Supreme Court, provides keynote remarks at the Law Fellows closing ceremony.

Class sessions are held at the Scalia Law facilities conveniently located just across the Potomac River in Arlington, Virginia, and easily accessible on the Orange Line Metro train. Founded in 1972 as the International School of Law in Washington, D.C., it merged with GMU in 1979 to become George Mason University School of Law.  In 2016, it was renamed the Antonin Scalia Law School in memory of the late Supreme Court Justice. Scalia Law is home to an exceptional market-oriented faculty, placing them at the center of foundational debates on liberty, private property rights, constitutionally limited government and the economic analysis of law. Scalia Law also hosts research projects and programs through the Law and Economics Center and the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property.

Fellows will earn two credit hours awarded through Scalia Law upon successful completion of the coursework.

The class we took on originalism was especially important to me since I was introduced to ideas that I am unlikely to be taught at my law school. There are a variety of approaches, even within circles advocating judicial restraint, and I found myself often disagreeing with my colleagues – to all our benefit.”
– Jacob Altik
University of Michigan Law School
Intern, New Civil Liberties Alliance

Course Description

Summer Law Fellowship Academic building
George Mason University campus in Arlington, Virginia.

Constitutional Interpretation: The Debate over Originalism (2 Credits)

The course will explore the concepts of original meaning theory as a method of constitutional interpretation. Students will be exposed to the history of originalism and its practical application in landmark cases before the Supreme Court. Click here for the 2021 syllabus.

The course on originalism deepened my understanding of and appreciation for the Constitution and made me both a better law student and a better citizen.”
– Christian Townsend
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Intern, Cato Institute

Faculty

Dr. Jeremy Rabkin of the TFAS Summer Law Fellowship academics teams
Dr. Jeremy Rabkin, Professor of Law

Dr. Jeremy N. Rabkin
Professor of Law

Jeremy A. Rabkin is a Professor of Law at Antonin Scalia Law School. Before joining the faculty in June 2007, he was, for over two decades, a professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University. Professor Rabkin serves on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Institute of Peace (originally appointed by President George W. Bush in 2007, then appointed for a second term by President Barack Obama and reconfirmed by the Senate in 2011). He also serves on the Board of Academic Advisers of the American Enterprise Institute and on the Board of Directors of the Center for Individual Rights, a public interest law firm based in Washington, D.C.

Professor Rabkin’s books include “Law Without Nations?” (Princeton University Press, 2005). He authored “If You Need a Friend, Don’t Call a Cosmopolitan,” a chapter in “Varieties of Sovereignty and Citizenship” (Sigal R. Ben-Porath & Rogers M. Smith eds., University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012). His articles have appeared in major law reviews and political science journals and his journalistic contributions in a range of magazines and newspapers, including The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

Lecture Series

TFAS Summer Law Fellows will participate in a weekly lecture series with leading scholars, judges and attorneys on salient issues in law and policy, and the principles of limited government and free enterprise. The lectures are designed to complement the coursework on originalism and provide an opportunity to network with some of the best public policy experts and legal minds in the law and liberty movement.

Recent guest lecturers have included:

Judge James L. Buckley addresses Fellows at a lunch lecture as part of the Summer Law Fellowship academics component.
Judge James L. Buckley addresses Fellows at a lunch lecture.
  • Former Attorneys General Edwin Meese and Michael Mukasey
  • Judge James L. Buckley, American Jurist, Politician, Civil Servant, Attorney, Businessman, and Author
  • Hester Peirce, Commissioner, U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission
  • Allen Dickerson, Commissioner and Vice Chair, Federal Election Commission
  • Brian Rabbitt, former Acting Assistant Attorney General for DOJ’s Criminal Division
  • Michael Huston, Assistant to the Solicitor General, DOJ
  • Ilya Shapiro, Director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute
  • Randy Barnett, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Adam Liptak, Supreme Court correspondent, The New York Times
  • Todd Gaziano, Pacific Legal Foundation
  • Yuval Levin, American Enterprise Institute
  • Tom Jipping, Heritage Foundation
  • Prof. Hadley Arkes, James Wilson Institute
  • Bradley Smith, Institute for Free Speech and former FEC Chairman

    Law Fellow with James Buckely
    Glynis Gilio, Law ’19, poses for a photo with Judge James L. Buckley.
  • Former ACLU President, Nadine Strossen
  • Stephen Vladeck, Lawfare founding member and Professor of Law, University of Texas School of Law
  • Ilya Somin, Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University
  • Lori Windham, Senior Counsel, Becket
  • Casey Mattox, Vice President for Legal and Judicial Strategy, Americans for Prosperity
  • Gene Healy, Vice President, Cato Institute
  • Diana Simpson, Institute for Justice

Each week was filled with lectures and professional development sessions led by the nation’s top legal scholars. On frequent occasion I had to remind myself that I was sitting two seats away from men and women I have long looked up to for the past number of years.”
-Mark Metrey
University of Maryland School of Law
Intern, Hudson Cook

Thoughts from the Bench

TFAS aims to enhance their philosophical and practical understanding of law in the United States by exposing the Law Fellows to top legal minds. The “Thoughts from the Bench” discussion series features direct contact with some of the nation’s leading federal judges. Judges share practical advice on judicial clerkships, tips for career advancement, and instructive and sage insights on originalist jurisprudence. Past participants include:

  • Judge Douglas Ginsburg, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit
  • Judge Neomi Rao, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit
  • Judge Don Willett, U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit
  • Judge Amul Thapar, U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit
  • Judge Chad Readler, U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit
  • Judge Michael Brennan, U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit
  • Judge Lisa Branch, U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit
  • Judge Ryan Holte, U.S. Court of Federal Claims