|In early August of 2023, we convened our annual James Wilson Fellowship. The class and the Fellowship can certainly be counted among our best yet. We share this report with you as a way of celebrating our 2023 Class.
Early this spring, we selected a group of outstanding young lawyers and law students to comprise our tenth class of Fellows. From a field of close to 60 applicants, we selected 15 Fellows, choosing to host the Fellowship again in Historic Old Town Alexandria in Virginia. We’ve found that the rich history of the Founders that surrounds us in this city just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C, provides an excellent backdrop for the lessons of the Fellowship. For the second year in a row, the Center on Religion, Culture, and Democracy at First Liberty Institute co-sponsored the James Wilson Fellowship. JWI was thrilled to be joined by the CRCD. The CRCD’s commitment to affirming the essential role of religious convictions, peoples, and institutions in cultivating free communities where all people can flourish aligns well with the mission of JWI.
|Even by the customarily strong accomplishments of our past Fellowship classes, the 2023 Class stood out. Twelve Fellows were either current or future judicial clerks, bringing with them a remarkable range of experience in government, private practice, and media. The class of Fellows bonded across the week as they dove deeper into the key questions of moral reasoning in the law. We were struck by the lengths to which some Fellows were willing to go in order to join with us for this week, signaling just how important this program has become for young attorneys.
We were also gratified to have our seasoned team of Faculty together again. Prof. Arkes led the core of the seminars across the week alongside Professor Gerry Bradley, JWI Senior Scholar and Trustee and Prof. David Forte, JWI Senior Scholar. Professor Justin Dyer (University of Texas), Professor Daniel Mark (University of Villanova), Dr. Jordan Ballor (CRCD), and Dr. Ryan Anderson (EPPC) returned to lead other specialized sessions across the week. We are proud of our JWI Faculty for their devotion to teaching the next generation of lawyers the first principles of moral justice that underlie our jurisprudence.
|Special events and guests enlivened the week as well. To make good use of our location steeped in history, our Managing Director Michael Maibach led a walking tour of historic Old Town. Furthermore, we were grateful to Fellowship Alumnus Aaron Reitz (2018) for visiting to share his experience in the Texas State Attorney General’s Office and now as Chief of Staff for Senator Ted Cruz. Fellows also met with Former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone who shared about his time serving the President.
We were pleased to host Alumni of the program along with friends of JWI for a reception to meet the 2023 Fellows. This year, we hosted the reception at our offices in Old Town Alexandria. This is the first time we’ve hosted at our offices since moving back in 2020.
The Fellows appreciated that they were able to come to these discussions knowing that the Faculty and Fellows held a common moral framework. Many of the Fellows expressed how heartening it was to share this experience of learning with a community of like-minded professionals. One Fellow conveyed the timeliness and urgency of the program:
“The text, history, and tradition that has long anchored the modern conservative movement has not delivered on its promises as many of us hoped. We are in a paradigm-shift moment where legal conservatism will need to move beyond the text and into fundamental principles and moral reasoning if anything is to be preserved of the good and moral American people. Over five days, James Wilson Institute faculty and its fellows debated how fundamental principles and moral reasoning could be reintroduced into jurisprudence for that end.”
Beyond everything else, we are so touched and appreciative of our 2023 Fellows. They took time from their busy lives to join us. We look forward to keeping our 2023 Fellows close, engaging them in future JWI Programs, and connecting them with our over 150 Fellowship alumni!