New York Fellows Luncheon & CLE Presentation
This event is free to registrees.
Featured CLE: “Practicing ‘God’s Law’ in a Secular World: The Lawyers of the Westboro Baptist Church, 1964-2011” with Victoria Saker Woeste (ABF Research Professor)
The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, founded in 1964 by the Rev. Fred W. Phelps Sr., has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Clinic for its sustained campaign against LGBT people and, in particular, its opposition to the extension of civil rights to members of that group. Yet between 1970 and 1989, the church’s founder, Fred Sr., established himself and his family law firm as the go-to plaintiffs’ attorneys for civil rights litigation in eastern Kansas. Their reputation for advocacy in this area earned them public admiration but also the irritation of the federal district court bench. This research delves into the combative social context of post-Brown Topeka, where racial separations and segregation were driven underground but flourished nevertheless in public education and private employment. It explains why Phelps and his children believed that representing civil rights clients was an essential part of their scripturally-directed work , and it lays the groundwork for understanding Phelps’s turn from pro-civil rights activism for African Americans to opposing civil rights for gay people after 1998.
Lunch Available at 12:00 p.m.
CLE Presentation* to commence at 12:30 p.m.
*This program will provide 1.0 hour of Areas of Professional Practice New York CLE credit for both experienced and newly-admitted attorneys.
The Fellows gratefully recognize: