Sean Tehan, a Tocqueville Fellow for three years, graduated in May with a major in political science and minors in Constitutional Studies and theology. In the fall, he will return to South Bend as a 1L at Notre Dame Law School.
“I wanted to go to law school since I entered Notre Dame, and being in Constitutional Studies classes–and really enjoying them–convinced me that I should go to law school,” he said. “One reason that I minored in Constitutional Studies is that Notre Dame doesn’t have a pre-law track. The closest you can get is Constitutional Studies, in which you get to take a lot of classes about the law.”
Tehan’s first engagement with Supreme Court cases in the college classroom came in Professor Matthew Hall’s class about free speech. “That class really taught me how to read cases thoroughly, understand their logic, and really argue about the law,” Tehan said. He took several other law classes with Professor Hall and several classes with CCCG Director Professor Phillip Muñoz about constitutional law.
Tehan especially loved Constitutional Studies’s focus on the Constitution and political philosophy. “I think the Constitutional Studies minor is important because it is more philosophically oriented than political science writ large, so it provides more of the foundational works, texts, conversations, questions, and debates that lie behind a lot of what we do in political science. The Constitution is the animating and foundational document of the country, so an understanding of that document is important for everything else we do in American politics,” he said.
Tehan became a Tocqueville Fellow as a sophomore, and he participated in colloquia on topics including the political thought of Frederick Douglass, abortion, capitalism and morality, the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville, and natural law and constitutional interpretation. Of the colloquia he attended, he enjoyed the conversations on abortion and natural law and constitutional interpretation the most.
During his time as a fellow, Tehan attended countless lectures and events, but his favorite will always be the seminar with Justice Clarence Thomas in the fall of 2021: “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to spend that much time with a Supreme Court Justice while being just an undergrad. My interest is law–these are the questions and thoughts I’ve been so interested in–and Justice Thomas is my favorite Supreme Court justice. He’s a great man, a great American, and a great Catholic, and it was awesome to be able to talk with him.”
Looking back on his involvement with the CCCG, Tehan said: “I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Soren, Jen, Professor Muñoz, and the CCCG for all they’ve done for me–the people I’ve gotten to meet, the books I’ve gotten to read, and the conversations I’ve gotten to take part in.” He looks forward to attending future CCCG events when he returns to Notre Dame as a law student.