Professor Profile WSU professor specializes in issues of religious liberty Attorney found his calling advising church-state groups

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

Christopher Lund originally dreamed of being a math professor, and earned a bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, in math and psychology at Rice University in Houston.

"But when I started doing mathematical research, I realized I didn't enjoy it that much," he says. "I wanted something more social, more connected to society and to peoples' needs.

"I got interested in public interest work, which drove me to law school."

Number-crunching took a back seat and Lund went on to receive his J.D. with high honors from the University of Texas School of Law, setting him on the path to his current position as assistant professor of law at Wayne State University Law School, where he teaches Religious Liberty in the United States, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Torts, and Evidence.

"I've always been interested in religion," he says. "When I got to law school at the University of Texas, two of my law professors specialized in that area. Under their tutelage, I started writing in the area and ended up serving as the Madison Fellow at Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

"It was a great time. I worked with a number of accomplished litigators doing the regular work of lawyers-filing complaints, writing briefs, and arguing cases."

During law school Lund worked at Jenner & Block in Washington, D.C; Simon Azar-Farr & Associates in San Antonio; Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery; Supreme Court of Texas in Austin; Locke, Liddell & Sapp in Houston; and for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. in Los Angeles. He clerked for the Hon. Karen Nelson Moore on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

The Ohio native then settled in the City of Brotherly Love.

"I ended up in Philly because my future wife Kerry was living there and she made me move -- it's fair, I guess, since I've made her move several times since then," Lund says.

"I worked for Dechert LLP doing mostly labor and employment, mostly appeals, and really enjoyed it. The cases were interesting and leanly staffed. I worked with a lot of good people and got a lot of real practical experience. I know it may not be fashionable to say this, but I really enjoyed my time at the firm. I really love the bits of consulting work that I still get to do."

Lund, who has taught at the Mississippi College School of Law, and the University of Houston Law School, joined Wayne Law in 2009. He serves as WSU Law Faculty Clerkship Advisor and on the Admissions and Readmissions Committee; and was voted Upperclass Professor of the Year in May, and First-Year Professor of the Year in 2010.

The 2009-10 chair of the Law and Religion Section of the Association of American Law Schools, Lund regularly advises church-state groups regarding litigated cases and pending legislation. He has represented a wide variety of groups and causes, drafted briefs for the American Civil Liberties Union defending the rights of Christian parents to homeschool their children, and for the National Association of Evangelicals supporting the religious freedom of Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

His work has been published in The South Dakota Law Review, Minnesota Law Review, North Carolina Law Review, Tennessee Law Review, and Northwestern University Law Review.

He has also been published in the Journal of Law and Religion, and History of Religions, where he has an upcoming article, "Religion, Prison, and the Constitution"; and has spoken at conferences around the country.

Lund has an upcoming piece for The North Carolina Law Review, regarding the Supreme Court case Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC. Courts have generally believed that federal employment discrimination statutes do not apply to church employees performing religious functions. The question is whether this ministerial exceptionù applies not simply to religious leaders, but also to teachers at a religious elementary school.

He also filed a brief in this case on behalf of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod; his brief was praised at the Supreme Court oral argument by Justice Stephen Breyer.

According to Lund, there are modern lessons to be learned from the 19th century history when Roman Catholics were mistreated by the Protestant majority. Injustices were sanctioned by courts and legislatures and legal rules rendered Catholics judicially non-cognizable and socially invisible. In his essay, "The New Victims of the Old Anti-Catholicism," scheduled for the 2012 Connecticut Law Review, Lund examines four modern church-state cases typical of current culture wars, and spanning the spectrum of Free Speech, Free Exercise, and Establishment Clause issues.

The plaintiffs -- Wiccan, Muslim, evangelical Protestant, and atheist -- are all, in their own ways, religious minorities. And all their legal cases were ultimately, and unjustly, lost. The four are the latter-day equivalents of 19th century Catholics, Lund says.

Lund's wife, Kerry Kornblatt, a graduate from the University of Virginia Law School, clerked for Judge Helene White on the Sixth Circuit for the 2009-10 year, and now clerks for Judge Mark Goldsmith with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

In his leisure time, Lund, a native of Shaker Heights, Ohio, enjoys reading and traveling -- "which we love, particularly international travel, when time and money permit."

Published: Tue, Nov 22, 2011

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