Louisiana College to open law school named for SBC leader Paul Pressler

PINEVILLE, La. (ABP) -- Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College will establish a new "biblical" law school named after Paul Pressler, the Texas appeals-court judge better known for leading the conservative takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The college hopes to open the Judge Paul Pressler School of Law in 2009, according to Joe Aguillard, president of the 1,000-student school. The college wants to have as many as 40 students in the first year and grow to 300, he told the Associated Press.

Louisiana College is affiliated with the Louisiana Baptist Convention, which elects its trustees. Like the SBC, the school has shifted in recent years to a more conservative stance. Some faculty members complained academic freedom was being curtailed, and the school's accrediting agency placed the college on probation.

Aguillard said the law school -- which would be the school's first doctoral program -- will teach "a biblical worldview" and seek accreditation with the American Bar Association. Two prominent conservative Christian law schools are operated by Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell, and Regent University, founded by Pat Robertson. Both are in Virginia.

“Founding a law school is a monumental undertaking but one that we are working on diligently,” Aguillard said in a press release. “Opening a conservative, Christian law school will fill a niche in the state of Louisiana, and also the nation.”

Pressler, a Baptist layman from Houston, served in the Texas legislature and practiced law before being named a state judge in 1970. He later was appointed to Texas' 14th Court of Appeals, from which he retired in 1993.

In 1989 President George H. W. Bush reportedly offered Pressler the post of director of the Office of Government Ethics, which angered Baptist moderates. In his 1999 autobiography, A Hill on Which to Die, Pressler said he declined the position rather than face confirmation and the "personal vendetta in which liberals engage to destroy innocent people."

Pressler also served as a trustee of the SBC International Mission Board and as first vice president of the convention.