4.13.2007

Virginians Celebrate 400 Years of Freedom at Regent University

Judges, professors, students and hundreds more from Virginia and beyond gathered to celebrate the founding of Jamestown at the "Liberty Under Law: 400 Years of Freedom" symposium held at Regent University April 12-13, 2007 and sponsored by Regent's School of Law.

The event began with a dinner and reception at Founder's Inn where guests were treated to a preview of "First Landing," a film jointly produced by Regent University and CBN that will premiere on the ABC Family Channel on April 30 after a screening on campus the night before.

The film tells the story of the founding of Virginia with a focus on the perspective of Robert Hunt, the Virginia Company's chaplain. Following the preview, the night's keynote speaker, the Honorable Chief Justice Leroy Hassell of the Virginia Supreme Court, spoke on the evolution and history of Virginia's many constitutions.

"State constitutions are often overlooked by historians and lawyers," Hassell said. "However, the Virginia constitution and the story behind it are incredibly important."

Several forums were held during the symposium with a focus on Virginia's history of freedom. Topics included the Magna Carta, the rule of law, and the importance of religion in society. One of the highest attended forums was a panel discussion concerning the roles of religion and law in American society. The panel featured Teresa Collett of University of St. Thomas School of Law, Marci Hamilton of Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Jonathan Turley of George Washington University School of Law and Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice.

The speakers presented their research concerning various areas that religion and government collide and coexist. Collett spoke about the Supreme Court's view of human sexuality in light of the Lawrence v. Texas decision. Hamilton discussed why she believed the government should not provide special status to people because they were religious, but should make accommodation for sincerely held religious belief. Sekulow took the opposite stance, holding that a person's faith should be respected by government and special exceptions should be made for religious people. Turley discussed the First Amendment's right to association and how the government should not infringe on the ability to form specific groups.

Students from Regent University's School of Law comprised a large portion of the audience. One student who found this forum particularly interesting was Dale Austin.

"I think this panel was a great mix of people," Austin said. "It's nice to hear from a group with many different political viewpoints."

Regent University's School of Law was the first Christian law school to receive accreditation by the American Bar Association and is the only law school to have held both the Moot Court and Negotiations national championships.