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Defending Religious Liberty

May 02, 2019 - 3 minute read

Since graduating from Concordia, Chase has earned his law degree from Duke University School of Law and served on the US Court of Appeals. Here, he reflects on the Q&I core curriculum, how enduring faith impresses upon our vocations, and upholding human dignity.

What led you to Concordia University Irvine?

I discovered Concordia through Professor Konrad Hack, who recruited me to join the debate team while I was in high school. Another selling point was the then-brand-new Core Curriculum. Debating for Konrad and reading great books in the Core trained me to think through ideas in unconventional ways.

Where have you experienced growth as a student?

The History and Political Thought Department taught me how to write. Dr. Van Voorhis cut out my editorializing and purple prose. Dr. Armstrong taught me to write with a measured, lucid voice. I am grateful for their patience and training, and it prepared me for a career as a lawyer.

Which faculty or staff member do you most admire?

Professor Konrad Hack. At Concordia, Konrad became like a second father to me. Back then, the debate team had a squad room next to Konrad's office. And since I was a commuter, that squad room was my primary workstation. His godly example and enduring faith in Jesus became a formative part of my own walk with God. Through great times (and through heart-wrenching times) whenever I asked Konrad how he was doing he unfailingly replied "better than I deserve." Konrad uses that expression to evangelize the grace of Jesus with others. Through his decisions, conduct, and even innocuous expressions, Konrad points everyone around him to Jesus. I'm so thankful to have him as a friend and mentor.

What would be your ideal job?

Something where I can solve problems, write, and serve God's Kingdom.

Since graduating from Concordia and Duke Law School I've been blessed with several cool jobs. From 2017-2018, I had the privilege of serving as a law clerk for a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Law clerks help their judge by drafting memos about upcoming cases and drafting opinions for the court. As a Christian, clerking also forced me to hold two ideas in tension: humans are capable of depravity, and all humans have intrinsic value as image-bearers of God. My year the court heard cases involving spousal murder, drug cartels, and international child pornography rings. And every defendant is given a trial, protections in the Bill of Rights, and appellate review—not because society doesn't take crime seriously, but because we take human dignity seriously. I'm grateful to have been a part of that process.

After clerking I moved to Washington D.C. to work as an attorney at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Becket is a law firm that represents people of all faiths. At Becket, I helped defend the religious liberty of an order of nuns called the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Klickitat and Cascade Tribes of Yakama Nation, and a Buddhist capital defendant named Patrick Murphy. Each case involved different facts and areas of law, but each case advances a common point: It is wrong for Caesar to demand what belongs to God.

Currently, I’m an attorney in the Executive branch of the United States government. Like with my clerkship and job at Becket, it is again a blessing to earn a living by working for something bigger than myself: helping the President take care that the laws are faithfully executed, doing justice, and protecting freedom for all Americans.

Who are your heroes?

My father, for his work ethic and love for God. I grew up watching my Dad (a freelance artist) regularly work 13-hour days while still making time for his family. One thing that particularly left an impression was his habit of praying on his knees before starting a long night's work. That is a habit that I strive to follow.

Second, my grandmother, Jacqueline Harrington. She raised three sons then went to college, then law school, and graduated with her J.D. the year I was born. Her drive and commitment to family is an example to me.

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