Christine Budasoff

2020 John Marshall Fellow

What is your current position?

I am a third-year associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

What inspired you to choose this career path?

Being a lawyer has always been on my radar. I wanted to be a prosecutor as a kid. But the idea became real to me in college when I joined the mock trial team. Before the season began, we spent a week going through the Federal Rules of Evidence, and I was hooked from there. I have loved exploring and practicing the law ever since.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently out on maternity leave, so diapers and feedings. But on the legal front, I briefly paused my maternity leave to help draft a petition for a writ of certiorari that was recently filed with the Supreme Court of the United States. My practice primarily consists of appellate work, complex commercial litigation, and Congressional investigations.

How did you hear about the Claremont Institute?

I came across the Claremont Institute while researching what conservative-leaning attorneys and law clerks were participating in and doing.

What is your fondest memory of the Claremont Institute?

It would definitely be the late-night discussions I shared with the other John Marshall Fellows. We discussed everything from weighty subjects of religion and politics to discussions of family and cooking tips. The discussions and debates during the seminar were fascinating, but what I remember most fondly is the fellowship. I discovered a fantastic and treasured group of colleagues and friends that will last a lifetime.

There are all sorts of educational programs out there for current and rising conservative professionals. What do you think makes the Claremont Institute’s Fellowship unique?

The John Marshall Fellowship covers more ground more comprehensively than other educational programs. The subject matter discussed in the lectures certainly follows a theme, but the various topics we discussed cover a lot of ground with incredible depth and detail. The Claremont Institute also has a very unique culture that comes through powerfully during the Fellowship. The Claremont Institute feels young and vibrant, full of energy and passion, committed to facing down our challenges and striving fearlessly for the principles and values that have always made this country great, like freedom, liberty, rule of law, and justice.

What would the artifact be, if you could hold one piece of history from the early founding of our country and why?

Probably Thomas Jefferson’s pen, or perhaps the Declaration of Independence itself (if I could be assured that I would in no way damage it). I believe the Declaration of Independence is one of the greatest documents ever written because of everything it says, everything it represents, and everything it set into motion.

What Amendment do you believe is in the greatest danger of being lost and why?

The First Amendment for certain. Although the Second Amendment has been chipped away at bit by bit, I do not believe we will be facing disarmament any time soon. I do believe, however, that several of the rights protected under the First Amendment could be drastically limited within the next few decades. For example, freedom of religion is and has been under constant attack. There exists a concerted effort to encroach upon and disregard individual religious liberty. Future court rulings will evaluate the boundaries of anti-discrimination laws and freedom of religion, and it is not certain that freedom of religion will always prevail.

In the same vein, the Covid-19 pandemic has offered governments the opportunity to grab unimaginable power in new and terrifying ways. Freedom of assembly was abridged in the case of churches holding services during lockdowns. Freedom of speech was abridged by monopolistic big tech censorship at the behest of elected politicians.

The loss of freedoms protected by the First Amendment naturally leads to the loss of other freedoms, when we are not able to speak up for ourselves and make our voices heard.

What qualities do you believe will make outstanding statesmen/women in this century?

I believe those qualities to be incorruptibility, adherence to traditional Judeo-Christian ethics, an appreciation for understanding of the principles our country was founded upon, and extreme brilliance and savvy. They must be willing to speak truth to power, even in the face of vitriol and hatred from their enemies. They must be willing to lose close friendships and be happy to lose them a million times over if it means standing for what is right and protecting our country. They must also be able to accurately discern allies from enemies, and understand the importance of securing significant, enduring victories.

What do you believe has led to our established culture redefining itself in the 21st century?

The failure of our country to educate its youth and the corresponding ignorance it has caused in its people. For example, people do not understand what it means to have rights. They believe their rights come from the government, granted to them by the state, and so belonging to the state. The idea of rights that exist outside of the state, rights possessed by each and every person by virtue of having been created in the image of God, is an idea foreign to far too many of our citizens. Similarly, God has been removed from our schools and our public institutions. This has led to a decline in our country’s morality and an increase in depression, despondency, and lack of purpose. Fixing these shortfalls is a great challenge, and because so many of those in power benefit from ignorance, there are few ways to reach people and strong currents against our efforts.

What is the most distinctive attribute/character of the people in the state where you grew up that you genuinely admire?

I grew up in Southern California and I love the beach culture of outdoor activity and relaxed living. The pace is still pretty quick, but there is a general chill factor. People spend more time enjoying the outdoors or even just with the windows open to enjoy an ocean breeze.

What regimen do you follow when writing requires a great deal of research and thought?

The key, I have found, is being thorough and systematic, without stifling free and organic thought. I try to strike a balance between structure and creative work. I approach my review systematically, making lists of different avenues to follow and working my way though them, but I also see great value in naturally moving through texts and following streams of thought and inquiry where they lead me. I build in and maintain structure by keeping a detailed running list of the various ideas, thoughts, avenues, questions, and sources that I need to come back to, so I have freedom to chase rabbits when I think it will be worthwhile. As I get a bit into the subject matter, I start a loose outline where I organize thoughts and sources into themes and arguments.

I have also found that time away is critical to success. Time to ponder over points while I am doing something else, or even stepping away from the project entirely and coming back to it fresh, is important enough that I generally plan for downtime in my large writing projects.

What books are you currently reading?

I usually have a few books that I am working my way though at any given time. Right now I am reading A Year with C.S. Lewis, finishing Brandon Sanderson’s Rhythm of War, and I just started reading False Assurances by Christopher Rosow.

What is you favorite cultural/recreational pastime (or hobby) and why?

Thanksgiving is my favorite cultural pastime. Cooking for people is one of the ways that I show love, and so having a holiday that revolves around food holds great appeal to me. I wake up very early to put the turkey in the oven before anyone else is awake, and as I prepare, I reflect on the year and the many blessings I have been given. Before we eat, we take time to go around the table and say the things we are grateful for. Mine is easy: I am so grateful for my family. Listening to the things my children are grateful for, stated in meaningful and thoughtful ways, is always one of the highlights of the day for me.

I also enjoy the Thanksgiving story. I think back to the brave men and women who journeyed here in pursuit of freedom and a better life for their children. I can imagine the difficulties and horrors they faced those first few years, and the joy they must have felt at surviving and thriving. It is a good message and a theme our country has consistently followed: facing adversity, overcoming, and going on to be the greatest, freest, and most just nation to ever exist. It is my hope that our current struggles are just one more dark night we must overcome.