Call for Applications for FIRE’s Justice Robert H. Jackson Legal Fellowship

May 16, 2011

FIRE is pleased to announce a call for applications for our Justice Robert H. Jackson Legal Fellowship.

Established in honor of the late Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson in 2007, the Jackson Fellowship allows recent law school graduates an opportunity to substantively engage issues and cases that represent the cutting edge of First Amendment jurisprudence and higher education law. Working closely with FIRE’s President and Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, Jackson Fellows produce legal scholarship on issues central to FIRE’s mission of protecting core constitutional liberties on campusfreedom of speech, due process rights, freedom of assembly, freedom of conscience, academic freedom, and more. Beginning in September, Jackson Fellows will work in FIRE’s Philadelphia headquarters for two years. More information about the Fellowship, including instructions on how to apply, is available here. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Our inaugural Jackson Fellows, Azhar Majeed and Kelly Sarabyn of the University of Michigan Law School and Yale Law School respectively, produced several pieces of original legal scholarship during their term as Fellows. Azhar, now FIRE’s Associate Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, published "The Misapplication of Peer Harassment Law on College and University Campuses and the Loss of Student Speech Rights" in the Journal of College and University Law, "Defying the Constitution: The Rise, Persistence, And Prevalence Of Campus Speech Codes" in the Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy, and "Putting Their Money Where Their Mouth Is" in the Cardozo Public Law, Policy & Ethics Journal. Kelly published "The Twenty-Sixth Amendment: Resolving the Federal Circuit Split Over College Students’ First Amendment Rights" in the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, "Free Speech at Private Universities" in the Journal of Law & Education, and "Prescribing Orthodoxy" in the Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal.

Erica Goldberg, our current Jackson Fellow, has been similarly productive, publishing "Measuring A "Degree of Deference": Institutional Academic Freedom In a Post-Grutter World," an article she co-authored with Kelly, in the Santa Clara Law Review. Erica has had two further articles accepted for publication: "Must Universities ‘Subsidize’ Controversial Ideas? Allocating Security Fees When Student Groups Host Divisive Speakers," forthcoming in the George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal, and "Amending Christian Legal Society v. Martinez: Protecting Expressive Association as an Independent Right in a Limited Public Forum," forthcoming in the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights.

Erica, who will begin as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Penn State Law School this August, has enjoyed her time as a Jackson Fellow. She writes:

I cannot express superlatively enough how much this fellowship has enriched my life and my legal career.  As a Justice Robert H. Jackson Legal Fellow, I was able to write legal scholarship that explored issues in areas that mattered to me, like academic freedom and expressive association.  I was also able to participate in FIRE’s cases, by blogging, helping to draft amicus briefs, and participating in strategy and policy discussions.  I became well versed in First Amendment law, and I was constantly inspired by the principled and dedicated staff.  FIRE’s ability to remain nonpartisan about speech issues truly distinguishes it as an organization, and I look forward to using the knowledge and experience that I gained at FIRE in my new career as a law professor.

We wish Erica the best in her academic career, and we will miss her here at FIRE. We also look forward to welcoming a new Jackson Fellow to FIRE in the fall. FIRE is proud to continue to pay tribute to Justice Jackson, whose illuminating eloquence on the importance of freedom of speech and freedom of conscience lights our way forward still:

Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.

It seems trite but necessary to say that the First Amendment to our Constitution was designed to avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings. There is no mysticism in the American concept of the State or of the nature or origin of its authority. We set up government by consent of the governed, and the Bill of Rights denies those in power any legal opportunity to coerce that consent. Authority here is to be controlled by public opinion, not public opinion by authority.

To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds. We can have intellectual individualism and the rich cultural diversities that we owe to exceptional minds only at the price of occasional eccentricity and abnormal attitudes. When they are so harmless to others or to the State as those we deal with here, the price is not too great. But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us. West Virginia State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 641-42 (1943).

We encourage recent law school graduates with an interest in producing legal scholarship and a commitment to FIRE’s mission of defending civil liberties on campus to apply.