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Jay Alan Sekulow (born June 10, 1956) is chief counsel at the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ). He hosts a radio and television talk show. Sekulow is a frequent guest commentator on the Christian Broadcasting Network and the Fox News Channel. A self-described Messianic Jew, Sekulow built a legal and media empire over a thirty-year period by representing conservative, religious, pro-life groups.
Sekulow is on President Donald Trump's personal legal team, which is advising the president in connection with the conspiracy investigation, by a team led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller and by various Congressional committees, into links between Trump associates and Russian officials.
Early life and education
Jay Alan Sekulow was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Natalie (née Wortman) and Stanley Sekulow. Sekulow was born and raised Jewish. Sekulow graduated from Lakeside High School in Atlanta, Georgia, and earned a B.A. in 1977 and a J.D. from Walter F. George School of Law in 1980. While attending Atlanta Baptist College (now the Atlanta campus of Mercer University), Sekulow became interested in Christianity and converted to Messianic Judaism after encountering Jews for Jesus. Sekulow earned a Ph.D. from Regent University in 2005, writing his dissertation on religious influence on Supreme Court Justices and their opinions.
After graduating from law school, Sekulow worked at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a prosecutor with the tax litigation division for "about 18 months." In 1982, he opened a law firm in Atlanta, Georgia, with former Mercer classmate Stuart Roth which soon evolved into a business buying, renovating, and selling historic properties as a tax shelter for wealthy investors. When IRS regulations changed in the mid-eighties, the law firm and the real estate business collapsed. Sekulow and his partners filed for bankruptcy protection in 1987 and were sued by investors for fraud and securities violations. In 1987 Sekulow became general counsel for Jews for Jesus. In 1988 he founded he founded the nonprofit group Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism (CASE) whose president he is and whose board members are him, his wife, and their two sons.
In 1992, Sekulow became the director of the ACLJ, where he was chief counsel and principal officer in 2018.
Sekulow is half-owner of the for-profit corporation Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group, incorporated in 2003, whose governor and executive officer is Stuart Roth, his partner in the law firm and real estate business that declared bankruptcy in 1986. From 2011 to 2016, the ACLJ paid the group $23 million, "its largest outside expense."
Sekulow owns Regency Productions, the company that produces his radio show and was paid $11.3 million by the two charities for production services between 2000 and 2017.
Sekulow hosts Jay Sekulow Live!, a syndicated daily radio program broadcast on terrestrial radio, and XM and Sirius satellite radios. This live call-in program focuses on legal and legislative topics. Sekulow is the host of ACLJ This Week, a weekly television news program broadcast on Trinity Broadcasting Network and Daystar.
In November 2005, Legal Times published an article which alleged that Sekulow "through the ACLJ and a string of interconnected nonprofit and for-profit entities, has built a financial empire that generates millions of dollars a year and supports a lavish lifestyle—complete with multiple homes, chauffeur-driven cars, and a private jet that he once used to ferry Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia." In the article, former donors and supporters claimed that Sekulow engaged in a pattern of self-dealing to finance his "high-flying lifestyle." According to a ranking by the American Institute of Philanthropy, a charity watchdog group, Sekulow was the 13th highest paid executive of a charitable organization in the United States.
ACLJ's and CASE's tax returns show that between 1998 and 2011 they paid more than $33 million to Sekulow, members of his family, and businesses owned or co-owned by them; from 2011 to 2015, the two charities paid $5.5 million to Sekulow and members of his family, and $23 million to their businesses. Since 2011, donations to ACLF are routed through Sekulow's family-run CASE, and many "transactions that benefit members of the Sekulow family are disclosed on the CASE returns, but not the ACLJ's." Between 2011 and 2015, the ACLJ, the "public face of the two nonprofits," collected nearly $230 million in charitable donations.
On June 27 and 28, 2017, The Guardian reported that documents obtained by them confirmed later that "millions in donations" were steered to his family members, that Sekulow "approved plans to push poor and jobless people to donate money to his Christian nonprofit, which since 2000 has steered more than $60m to Sekulow, his family and their businesses", and that attorneys general in New York and North Carolina opened investigations of Sekulow's CASE for possibly using pressure tactics in telemarketer calls to raise money which was allegedly misdirected to Sekulow and his family.
News and politics
Sekulow is thought by some in Washington to have been one of the "Four Horsemen" who "engineered" the nomination of Chief Justice John G. Roberts to the Supreme Court. In 2007, Sekulow endorsed Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. He has opposed the building of Park51, an Islamic center in Lower Manhattan two blocks from the World Trade Center.
On February 27, 2019 Michael Cohen reported in testimony before Congress that Jay Sekulow and other members of Trump’s legal team made “several” changes to his false statement to the House Intelligence Committee, including a change to the “length of time that the Trump Tower project stayed and remained alive.” Sekulow disputed the testimony "Today’s testimony by Michael Cohen that attorneys for the president edited or changed his statement to Congress to alter the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations is completely false". The Intelligence Committee announced on May 14, 2019, that it would investigate whether Sekulow “reviewed, shaped and edited” Michael Cohen's false testimony to Congress. The Washington Post reported on May 20, 2019, that Cohen testified in closed session before the Intelligence Committee that Sekulow instructed him to falsely testify that the Trump Tower Moscow discussions ended in January 2016.
The New York Times reported in December 2019 that people close to Sekulow said he told them he voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. In 2020, January, he was named as part of the counsel team that will represent Donald Trump in the impeachment case in the Senate.
Sekulow and his wife, Pamela (McPherson), have been married since 1978, and have two adult sons, Jordan and Logan. (All four live in Brentwood, TN.) Jordan Sekulow is an attorney with the ACLJ and Director of International Operations. He also co-hosts the radio and television programming with his father. Logan briefly starred in the Nickelodeon series U-Pick Live in 2005. Sekulow was raised Jewish. He converted to Christianity in college and is now a Messianic Jew. His youngest brother Scott is the founder and Rabbi of the Messianic Jewish Congregation Beth Adonai in Atlanta, Georgia. Sekulow is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Supreme Court Historical Society in Washington, DC.
Awards and accomplishments
- In 1994, Sekulow was named to the National Law Journal's Power List.
- In 1997, he was named to The American Lawyer's Public Sector 45, a list dedicated to legal public servants who have had the greatest effect in their respective fields.
- Legal Times profiled him as one of the "90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Last 30 years".
- 1990: From Intimidation to Victory, Creation House
- 1993: Knowing Your Rights: Taking Back Our Religious Liberties
- 1996: And Nothing But the Truth
- 1997: Christian Rights in the Workplace, The American Center for Law and Justice
- 2000: The Christian, The Court, and The Constitution, The American Center for Law and Justice
- 2005: Witnessing Their Faith: Religious Influence on Supreme Court Justices and Their Opinions, Rowman & Littlefield
- 2014: Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can't Ignore (with Jordan Sekulow, Robert W. Ash, and David A. French), Howard Books
- 2015: Undemocratic: How Unelected, Unaccountable Bureaucrats Are Stealing Your Liberty and Freedom, Howard Books
- 2016: Unholy Alliance: The Agenda Iran, Russia, and Jihadists Share for Conquering the World
- 2018: Jerusalem: A Biblical and Historical Case for the Jewish Capital
Cases before the Supreme Court
Sekulow has argued in front of the United States Supreme Court 12 times, specializing in issues of the First Amendment. Sekulow most recently argued before the Supreme Court on November 12, 2008 in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, case No.07-665. Sekulow represented the city in this case concerning government control over monuments and memorials in government-owned public places, which ended the following February with the Court ruling in the city's favor. On March 2, 2009, the Supreme Court issued a summary disposition in the companion case of Summum v. Duchesne City. The Court vacated the Tenth Circuit opinion and remanding the case for an opinion consistent with Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 555 U.S. 460 (2009).
Sekulow has submitted several amicus briefs in support of conservative issues. He has submitted amicus briefs in landmark cases such as Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Rasul v. Bush, Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood, and Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation. His amicus briefs for Van Orden v. Perry and Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC were cited by Justices John Paul Stevens and John Roberts respectively. Sekulow was counsel to Robert and Mary Schindler during the controversy surrounding their daughter, Terri Schiavo. Sekulow's amicus brief in Morse v. Frederick was in support of the ACLU's position; he argued that schools banning "offensive" speech would also be able to prohibit religious speech with which the administrators disagree.
List of Supreme Court cases
|Board of Airport Commissioners v. Jews for Jesus||1987||Arguing on behalf of Jews for Jesus, Sekulow argued that LAX's policy banning all "First Amendment activities" violated the organization's right to free speech.||Judgment for Jews for Jesus.|
|Board of Education of Westside Community Schools v. Mergens||1990||Sekulow argued on behalf of students who were denied their request to form a Bible and prayer club at their school.||Judgment for the Students.|
|U.S. v. Kokinda||1990||Sekulow argued on behalf of two volunteers of the National Democratic Policy Committee who were arrested after refusing to leave the sidewalk near a post office.||Judgment for the United States|
|Lee v. ISKCON||1992||Sekulow was co-counsel, arguing on behalf of ISKCON against a regulation that prohibited distribution of literature in airport terminals.||Judgment for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.|
|Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic||1993||Sekulow argued on behalf of pro-life activists who were originally found as violating a statute by conducting demonstrations at abortion clinics.||Judgment for the Activists.|
|Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District||1993||In another case involving use of school property, Sekulow represented Lamb's Chapel, and their right to show religious-oriented films in a school after-hours.||Judgment for Lamb's Chapel.|
|Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York||1997||Sekulow argued on behalf of Schenck, challenging a District court ruling that provided for speech-free floating "bubble zones" surrounding abortion clinics.||Judgment for Schenck.|
|Hill v. Colorado||2000||This case revolved around protesters' rights to distribute literature in front of abortion clinics and a statute that barred them from approaching a non-consenting person. Sekulow, representing the protesters, argued that Colorado's "eight-foot rule" was unconstitutional.||Judgment for Colorado.|
|Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe||2000||Sekulow, representing the school district, argued that prayer, initiated and led by students at football games, did not violate the Establishment Clause.||Judgment for Doe.|
|McConnell v. FEC||2003||In a highly publicized case, Sekulow, on behalf of a group of students including Emily Echols, argued that a portion of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 violated the First Amendment and was thus unconstitutional.||Judgment for Echols, et al.|
|Locke v. Davey||2003||Sekulow, representing student Joshua Davey, argued that a statute excluding theology students from publicly funded scholarships was unconstitutional.||Judgment for Locke.|
|Pleasant Grove City v. Summum||2008||Sekulow, representing the city of Pleasant Grove, challenged a Tenth circuit opinion allowing Summum to erect a monument alongside a Ten Commandments monument donated to the city by the Fraternal Order of Eagles.||Judgment for Pleasant Grove City.|
- Hawkins, Derek Jay Sekulow, Trump's unlikely lawyer, The Washington Post (19 June 2017)
- Trump hires another high-profile lawyer as special counsel probe heats up, Politico, Josh Dawsey, June 16, 2017. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- Susan-M-Klau-NJ - User Trees - Genealogy.com,
- Crowd Control in Judge Battle, Mr. Sekulow Plays A Delicate Role, The Wall Street Journal (May 17, 2005)
- Tony Mauro, Jay Sekulow's Golden Ticket, Legal Times (October 31, 2005)
- Notable Alumni,
- Pinsky, Mark Legal Weapon : Jay Alan Sekulow is the Christian Right's leading lion in the judicial arena. Those he opposes say he's a zealot, an opportunist--and a formidable foe., Los Angeles Times (2 September 1993)
- Williamson, Elizabeth Trump’s Other Personal Lawyer: Close to the Right, but Far From Giuliani, The New York Times (December 1, 2019)
- Sekulow, Jay My Big Day at the Supreme Court, (February 1, 2019)
- Mauro, Tony The Secrets of Jay Sekulow, (November 1, 2005)
- Savage, Charlie For Jay Sekulow, New Trump Lawyer, Public Stumble Is Out of Character, The New York Times (June 19, 2017)
- Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism Inc.,
- Swaine, Jon Trump lawyer's firm steered millions in donations to family members, files show, The Guardian (June 27, 2017)
- Trump attorney Jay Sekulow’s family has been paid millions from charities they control, The Washington Post (June 27, 2017)
- Events for Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group P.C.,
- Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group P.C.,
- Prison Fellowship Founder Chuck Colson Special Guest on National Radio Show "Jay Sekulow Live!", (August 22, 2006)
- Our Programs: ACLJ This Week,
- Smietana, Bob Tenn. lawyer's family, firm collect millions from charities, The Tennessean via. USA Today (September 5, 2012)
- Donor Alert: 'ACLJ' Is Two Charities Dominated by One Family, (July 19, 2017)
- Trump lawyer's firm steered millions in donations to family members, files show,
- Swaine, Jon Authorities to investigate Jay Sekulow nonprofit after 'troubling' revelations, The Guardian (28 June 2017)
- Emily Bazelon|Bazelon, Emily (2007-11-26) On the Advice of Counsel, Slate.com
- Romney travels to Pat Robertson's school, (May 4, 2007)
- Petition filed to nix NY Islamic center, The Jerusalem Post - JPost.com
- Archived copy,
- Jay Sekulow: Landmark Church to be Rebuilt at Ground Zero, Faith & Justice
- 'Completely false': Trump attorney Jay Sekulow disputes point in Cohen testimony, NBC News (27 February 2019)
- Andrew Desiderio, House Intel probing Trump attorneys for possible obstruction,
- Cohen told lawmakers Trump attorney Jay Sekulow encouraged him to falsely claim Moscow project ended in January 2016, The Washington Post (May 21, 2019)
- O'Reilly, Andrew Trump’s impeachment trial team: Who are the lawyers defending the president?, (2020-01-14)
- Pinsky, Mark I. Legal Weapon : Jay Alan Sekulow is the Christian Right's leading lion in the judicial arena. Those he opposes say he's a zealot, an opportunist--and a formidable foe, Los Angeles Times (September 2, 1993)
- Anna Handzlik, Jordan Sekulow - Weddings, The New York Times (October 23, 2011)
- Jay Sekulow Fighting for Your Freedoms,
- Beth Adonai Leadership,
- Trump’s Lawyer Jay Sekulow Has A Band. It's Terrible., (June 19, 2017)
- Moore, Sam Donald Trump’s lawyer is in a band with the ex-singer of Kansas, (June 20, 2017)
- 1994 Power List, National Law Journal (April 4, 1994)
- The Public Sector 45, The American Lawyer (January–February 1997)
- 90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Last 30 Years, Legal Times (May 19, 2008)
- United States v. Kokinda, 497 U.S. 720 (1990).,
- Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U.S. 677 (2005).
- Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC, 546 U.S. 410 (2006).
- Board of Airport Commissioners v. Jews for Jesus, 482 U.S. 569 (1987).,
- Board of Education of Westside Schools v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226 (1990).,
- Lee v. Int. Society for Krishna Consciousness, 505 U.S. 831 (1992).,
- Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches School District, 508 U.S. 284 (1993).,
- On the Docket: Pleasant Grove City, Utah v. Summum, (April 8, 2008)