Jesuit Law School Advocates Police, Prison Abolition

News: US News
by Jules Gomes  •  •  August 24, 2023   

University's courses promote abortion, LGBT activism and reparations

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LOS ANGELES ( - A prestigious Jesuit law school is offering courses that are openly promoting abortion and LGBT activism and calling for the abolition of the police and prison as legal institutions. 

Loyola Law School, California

Loyola Law School, which stresses that its mission is to provide legal education "as a Catholic institution in the Jesuit and Marymount traditions," is offering courses in "reproductive justice" as "a paradigm for understanding reproductive oppression."

The university's prospectus, which clearly spells out the activist orientation of the module, insists that the course goes beyond "reproductive rights" in "the fight for equality and dignity in matters relating to reproduction."

The U.S. Constitution "ought to protect a 'right' to privacy, 'right' to access contraception or 'right' to an abortion," the course listing states. 

Policing Abortion

The Jesuit university's website advertises a seminar by Loyola Law School professor Priscilla Ocen, who is scheduled to deliver a lecture titled "Policing Abortion: Abortion, Criminalization and Abolition as a New Way Forward" on Nov. 6.

"At every stage, law enforcement plays a critical role in restricting reproductive autonomy of people capable of pregnancy," Ocen notes in her abstract for the forthcoming talk, replacing "women" with the term "people capable of pregnancy."

The pope seems to object not only to life sentences but to any sentences of an especially long duration.

"In this talk, I argue that to secure the right to reproductive autonomy, advocates and scholars must challenge the role of policing in care settings and question the fundamental role of imprisonment and punishment in our society through an abolitionist lens," Ocen explains. 

Drawing on cultural Marxism, the activist professor is also offering a colloquium titled "Race and the Law" to introduce students "to key theoretical insights from constitutional law, critical race theory, feminist legal theory and queer legal theory, among others."


LGBT Activism

Named after the founder of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius of Loyola, the school teaches "LGBTQ+ advocacy and inclusive lawyering," urging students "to enact systemic change" through "court and trial advocacy, community/stakeholder advocacy and public policy advocacy."

This course addresses "the current and historical social context of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, cultural inclusivity, bias and stigma, violence within and against LGBTQ communities and the unique barriers for LGBTQ litigants."

Is the pope saying that life imprisonment is intrinsically evil?

Grading will be based partly on "an advocacy presentation on LGBTQ legal issues," further incorporating activist training into the course objectives.

Loyola Law School, which is ranked in the top 10 in two specialty categories: No. 8 in tax law and No. 9 in trial advocacy, also offers courses explicitly advocating the abolition of the police and the prison system, claiming that both are racist.

Prison Abolition

"The continuation of police abuse and prison scandals has reaffirmed abolitionist calls for an end to policing and prisons," the course description states. "This class will first conduct a brief survey of the racial history of policing and prisons in the United States."

In the course titled "Police and Prison Abolition," the program advocates replacing police and prisons with "life-affirming institutions." 

Dr. Edward Feser

One of the university's programs also pushes for reparations, acknowledging that the concept is "controversial" but not "novel" in the United States.

In a module titled "Reparations: Theory and Law," students are urged to ask what role reparations play "in the context of other demands for social justice or transformation."

Uncritically assuming the legitimacy of reparations, students will "explore various reparations proposals, historical and contemporary," and "examine the role the law has played in helping or hindering those proposals." 

Pope Condemns Life Sentence

Pope Francis, a Jesuit, has condemned life sentences on at least ten occasions during his pontificate, arguing that they are on par with the death penalty, which the pontiff declared to be "inadmissible" in 2018 in a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 

Francis noted that "a life sentence is just a death penalty in disguise," in his 2014 address to the International Association of Penal Law. In a 2015 letter, he criticizes "life imprisonment, as well as those sentences which, due to their duration, render it impossible for the condemned to plan a future in freedom."

A life sentence is just a death penalty in disguise.

"The Magisterium of the Church holds that life sentences, which take away the possibility of the moral and existential redemption of the person sentenced and in favor of the community, are a form of death penalty in disguise," Francis stated in 2018, addressing a delegation of the International Commission against the death penalty.

"Remarkably, the pope seems to object not only to life sentences but to any sentences of an especially long duration," writes Catholic philosopher Edward Feser.   

Priscilla Ocen

"Pope Francis' position seems to entail that, had Hitler survived the war, it would have been wrong to sentence him to more than about twenty years in prison!" Feser remarks. "For Hitler was in his 50s when he died, so that if he had been sentenced to more than that, he could not 'plan a future in freedom' — as a greengrocer or crossing guard, perhaps."   

"Should a mass murderer get the same maximum penalty as a one-time murderer or a recidivist bank robber?" Feser asks. "Is the pope saying that life imprisonment is intrinsically evil?"

Feser explains that Francis' claim that life imprisonment, or even a very long imprisonment, is wrong conflicts with the traditional teaching of the Church that "legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense."

Francis' claim that long prison terms deprive the offender of hope presupposes a secular understanding of hope, Feser observes, because in Catholic theology, hope is a theological virtue that has nothing to do with anticipating good in this life but with the desire for eternal life. 

"Pope Francis has muddied the doctrinal waters.  And in this case, there are dire implications not only for the faithful's trust in the Magisterium (which would be bad enough) but also for the social order more generally," the philosopher concludes.

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