Blackstone Legal Fellowship

The Blackstone Legal Fellowship is an American legal training and summer internship program for Christian law students, developed and facilitated by the Evangelical Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). About 1,900 law students have participated in the program.[2] Its main campus is in Scottsdale, Arizona. Among its faculty are Missouri U.S. Senator Josh Hawley and U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett. ADF co-founder and president Alan Sears said that the program's goal was to put Christian lawyers into "positions of influence, thereby impacting the legal culture and keeping the door open for the Gospel."[3] The program has attracted criticism, given the ADF's designation by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.[4][5]

Blackstone Legal Fellowship
MottoLearn. Lead. Defend.
TypeLegal internship
AffiliationAlliance Defending Freedom
DirectorJeffery J. Ventrella


Sir William Blackstone in 1774

Blackstone Legal Fellowship was founded in 2000 with a class of 24 interns.[6] In 2012, when Sears was asked about the major achievements of ADF, he said "among the things I am most thankful for are our Blackstone Legal Fellowship graduates."[7] The program is named for Sir William Blackstone, the eighteenth century English legal scholar and jurist whose commentaries on the common law had, according to some legal scholars, a profound impact on the founders of the United States.[8] Blackstone training program promotes the doctrine of "natural law."[9]

ADF, which runs the Blackstone program, requires its employees to profess "adherence to the inspired, infallible, inerrant, and authoritative Word of God in Scripture."[10] Its mission is to "keep the door open for the gospel" by seeking to bring United States law in line with their Christian beliefs. The organization seeks to spread a belief in "the framers' original intent for the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights as it reflects God's natural law and God's higher law."[11]


The Blackstone Fellowship consists of three phases. Students spend two weeks in classes on ethics, theology and jurisprudence.[6][12] They are then assigned to a six-week "field placement" in the United States or abroad, with placements at "public-interest law firms, attorneys, law professors, think tanks, and public-policy organizations." Placements are based on students' aptitude and career goals.[6][12] Finally, the students return to ADF headquarters in Scottsdale for a week of presentations focusing on career development and professional networking, and given an orientation to the Blackstone alumni network.[6] Students attending the training program receive a $6,300 scholarship for participating, and some receive additional money for expenses during their field placements.[1][6]

Coney Barrett controversyEdit

In 2017, President Donald Trump's nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Amy Coney Barrett, was criticized by Senator Al Franken for teaching constitutional law at Blackstone. In her Senate committee hearing he referred to ADF as a "hate group." Barrett responded that the hate group label is "controversial." Barrett was confirmed to the court by the Senate.[13]


The following is a list of notable people who affiliated with Blackstone.


  1. ^ a b "Blackstone FAQ's". Alliance Defending Freedom. 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  2. ^ "Blackstone Legal Fellowship". Alliance Defending Freedom. 2018. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  3. ^ "Blackstone Legal Fellowship". Alliance Defending Freedom. Retrieved September 30, 2022.
  4. ^ Resnick, Sophia (August 9, 2018). "Sessions Defends Controversial Organization Against Hate Group Designation". Rewire News Group. Retrieved March 7, 2023.
  5. ^ "Alliance Defending Freedom". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved March 7, 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d e Dexter, Duggan (February 16, 2014). "How tomorrow's legal activists start the journey with a trip to Arizona". Arizona Daily Independent. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  7. ^ McFeely, Tom (January 18, 2012). "Alliance Defense Fund's Chief Convert". National Catholic Register. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  8. ^ Bailyn, Bernard, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (2017 edition).
  9. ^ Budziszewski, J. (2006). Natural Law For Lawyers. ACW Press and The Blackstone Legal Fellowship. ISBN 978-1932124798.
  10. ^ "Statement of Faith". Alliance Defending Freedom. January 15, 2020. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  11. ^ "IRS form 990". ProPublica. Internal Revenue Service. 2008. Retrieved March 25, 2022.
  12. ^ a b Grebing, Karen (ed.). "Blackstone Legal Fellowship Preparing AMSL Students to be Leaders of the Future". Ave Maria School of Law Advocate. Ave Maria School of Law (Fall 2013): 22–23. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  13. ^ a b Gottry, James (November 10, 2018). "Religious freedom has won some key battles recently". Washington Examiner. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  14. ^ McIntire, Ken (September 12, 2017). "Religious Freedom Advocates Rebuke Al Franken for 'Hate Group' Slur". The Daily Signal. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d e f "Blackstone Legal Fellowship". Alliance Defending Freedom. Retrieved February 2, 2018.

Further readingEdit

  • Budziszewski, J. (2006). Natural Law For Lawyers. ACW Press and The Blackstone Legal Fellowship. ISBN 978-1932124798.

External linksEdit