Summer Legal Intern Clayton Romans Shares His Experience at FIRE
September 6, 2006
by Emily Guidry
I have spent a great deal of my life with a book and pen in hand. I take pleasure in the dynamic exchange of ideas; in fact, I’ve never met an argument I didn't like (or wouldn’t take out to dinner). Because I value open, honest discussion, I grew concerned these last few years with the intellectually stifling atmosphere that increasingly has come to pervade too many American universities; a year at law school certainly has reinforced the importance of open debate and innovative ideas. For this reason and many others it has given me great satisfaction to witness firsthand both forces consistently at work here at FIRE.
Although I am at odds with much of what I read, watch and learn at school, I have felt fortunate to attend Georgetown. Funny enough, having earned my undergraduate degree in Provo, Utah, I arguably moved from one end of the spectrum to the other. Yet no matter which campus I’m on, I’ve noticed the galvanizing effect of free expression. I’ve enjoyed my time this summer spent reminding administrators and professors alike of the importance of that effect.
With its commitment to individual liberty and dignity, the Foundation is right up my ideological alley. Moreover, I’ve found plenty of exciting challenges in research, editing, drafting and analysis inspired by our country’s wacky colleges.
During my summer here, I’ve realized that while very few of us share the exact same beliefs on a wide range of topics—FIRE itself is a true microcosmic example of what the Supreme Court has termed the “marketplace of ideas”—we each share a commitment to the free expression of such beliefs, especially in the academic setting. Such devotion is inspiring. FIRE serves up a spicy defense of the freedoms that have sustained both our universities and our nation for over 200 years for breakfast, lunch and dinner. After cataloging the hundreds of cases resolved as a result of the Foundation’s efforts—the prodigious scorch of FIRE’s torch—I can’t help but feel a little awe. The First Amendment is a force to be reckoned with in such capable hands.