Ask the Attorney: An Interview with Phillip L. Jauregui

Phillip L. Jauregui alternates between his law office in Birmingham and advocacy offices in Washington, D.C., as he balances professional and pro bono work. His volunteer efforts for Life Legal Defense Foundation have concentrated on cases that defend unborn children. Mr. Jauregui is president of the Judicial Action Group and executive director of the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration, Inc., both with offices in th nation’s capital. He is a graduate of Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham. His practice serves small businesses and individuals; the majority of his work is in estate planning and trusts. Mr. Juaregui and his wife, Jennifer, are the parents of two young sons. He is a trustee of the Church of the Highlands. Mr. Juaregui has appeared on several national television programs, including Hannity & Colmes, CNBC’s Capitol Report, and Good Morning America.

What inspires you to do pro bono work for pro-life and related causes?

I lobby and work against judicial activism up in Washington, D.C., because of the importance such activism has in the areas of the law concerning unborn life, marriage, decency, and our national relationship with God. For me, this work is a ministry and my passion. It is related to every issue that is dear to me as a Christian.

How do you define judicial activism?

Judicial activism is when judges legislate from the bench. Judges are supposed to make decisions according to legislative guidelines put in place by the representatives of the people reflecting the will of the people. When that is not done, you get activism. Roe v. Wade is a great example. Not only is the word abortion not in the Constitution, neither is the word privacy. Even pro-abortion attorneys have agreed. For example, the dean of Stanford Law School, Larry Kramer, has written about this problem. I interviewed him a few years ago and he told me that he wanted abortion to be legal but he wanted it to be legal by the will of 300 million Americans, not by the will of five justices on the Supreme Court. What Dean Kramer was saying is what I have been saying: Let the legislative branch do its work of making laws and let the court decide disputes between people.

But don’t some people like the courts to make decisions on important issues that lawmakers can’t seem to act upon?

The average citizen does not accept judges legislating from the bench. The average citizen hates the idea. The average citizen understands what Abraham Lincoln said: that government is of the people, for the people, by the people. When the court legislates, it rubs people the wrong way. On the other hand, most lawyers, who by nature of their roles are officers of the court, like the idea of the court legislating. The reason is that as the power of the court grows, the power of the attorney also grows. Some politicians also love the idea of the courts legislating.

Does your current work in the Life Legal Defense Foundation case concerning abortionist George Tiller of Kansas relate to judicial activism?

My work with the Judicial Action Group attempts to achieve legislative accountability. My work with Life Legal attempts to achieve courtroom accountability. The goal is the same; there is just a different approach depending upon whether I am working with the Judicial Action Group or Life Legal. If we can achieve accountability with J.A.G., we will allow people to vote on life issues someday. With Life Legal, we are working to save every life today.

What is the latest on the current case?

A grand jury of Sedgwick County, Kansas, has responded to a petition of registered voters and has indicted abortionist George Tiller, who in my opinion is the most infamous of abortionists, responsible for performing allegedly illegal late-term abortions and causing deaths of women patients. The grand jury in January won the backing of a judge who granted a subpoena for clinic records for patients who wanted abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy. Tiller and his attorneys have put the proceedings on pause and are fighting the disclosure of records. The case is pending in the Kansas Supreme Court, which will review the case but which probably will not hear oral arguments. We have submitted an amicus brief in the case.

What are the chances of success?

I feel hopeful that the truth is going to come out, whether in this current grand jury case or in another one. That is why we have to continue to be vigilant in all these venues. The grand jury members, citizens randomly selected to serve, took it upon themselves to pursue this case. Troy Newman of Operation Rescue testified before the grand jury, following which grand jury members requested a judge to subpoena the records. If Tiller has nothing to hide, why is he obstructing the grand jury?

Why are you pro-life?

When I was in college, Christ turned my life around and I decided to serve Him the rest of my days. During my senior year I really felt called to go to law school but I was confused because I wanted to serve God with my whole heart and it seemed that the obvious way was to go to seminary. Upon reflection it finally became clear to me that addressing problems in our culture is a ministry. For me, serving God with all my heart means serving as an attorney. God doesn’t call all of us to the pulpit. The question of whether to be pro-life is answered by following the Bible. I don’t know that you can serve God and think that it’s all right to kill children. My pro-life philosophy is based in faith, in the truth of creation. I don’t believe, however, that it is necessary to believe in God to say that it is wrong to kill a child in the womb. Look at the face of a six-month-old child in the womb. You don’t need to believe Jesus Christ is Lord to know that it’s wrong to kill that child.

What would you advise other attorneys who are weighing whether or not to volunteer for a pro-life cause?

This type of pro bono work is the most rewarding work we attorneys can do—period.