Gov. Greg Abbott Wades into Dispute over Faith-Based Legal Education

By Published on December 30, 2015

Gov. Greg Abbott wants the organization that oversees Texas lawyers to reverse its disapproval of a Catholic faith-based continuing education course, calling the decision shallow and potentially discriminatory.

“The [State Bar of Texas] Committee’s position that ‘legal ethics’ and ‘religious or moral responsibilities’ should be — or even can be — completely divorced from each other is entirely without basis,” Abbott’s general counsel Jimmy Blacklock wrote in a Dec. 22 letter to the State Bar of Texas.

Abbott, who is a devout Catholic, waded into the dispute after Catholic lawyers and educators connected with St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio sought his intervention. The school and the State Bar are in a stand-off over whether lawyers should be given continuing legal education credit for a faith-based educational course. The State Bar contends that its rules only allow credit for courses specifically related to attorney duties, excluding issues related to religious or moral responsibilities.

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