Class of 2023 Student Spotlight: Charles Yockey

Author: Center for Citizenship & Constitutional Government

Charles Yockey Headshot Square Jpg

Tocqueville Fellow Charlie Yockey graduated with a major in the Program of Liberal Studies and a minor in Constitutional Studies. Yockey came to Notre Dame uncertain about his field of study, but he was intrigued by a friend’s description of the Program of Liberal Studies. “[I was] broadly interested in the multidisciplinary overlap between law and society, and saw the Program of Liberal Studies as a really good opportunity to try to get to know the human condition and also the western tradition,” Yockey said.  

“I saw Constitutional Studies as the perfect way to round out that education, to really supplement it with a more rigorous theoretical understanding of the state,” Yockey said. 

He took a class on comparative law with Professor Emilia Powell during his freshman year and then received special permission as a freshman to take a senior seminar with Professor Susan Collins, finding the seminar environment to be very worthwhile. Yockey took Constitutional Studies classes on a variety of topics, including free speech, constitutional government, civil liberties, race and the constitution, philosophy of law, and sexual morality and the constitution. He also took the Core Texts sequence this past year. 

Yockey’s favorite Constitutional Studies class was a moot court seminar about church and state. The class “gave me a lot of really practical experience, and even as an undergrad to sharpen my appellate advocacy skills and oral arguing abilities,” Yockey said. 

Throughout the summers, Yockey spent time working for investment banks within restructuring advisory. Yockey says that he saw these experiences as closely related to Constitutional Studies because he was able to work closely with lawyers, advise companies on their legal rights, and “use the law to strategically win value for these companies,” he said.

Yockey has always been interested in the intersection between law and markets. “I am especially interested in how the state regulates financial markets and how the polity is involved with trade and commerce,” he said, “So that’s been a really large focus of creating my undergraduate curriculum and how to structure that in a way that’s meaningful.”

After graduation, Yockey will be spending the summer in Washington D.C. completing the American Enterprise Institute’s Summer Honors Program, where he will take a course with Justice Clarence Thomas. Yockey also received a travel grant from the CCCG to attend the National Conservatism Conference in London this past May. 

Come August, Yockey will be pursuing a Masters in Philosophy at Cambridge University in London. He plans to write his dissertation on jurisprudence and the philosophy of law — specifically on legal positivism and originalism or on a political economy topic examining sovereignty and remediation efforts after World War I. He hopes to further pursue his interests in law, finance, and international relations. He then hopes to return to the US for law school. 

“The Tocqueville fellowship has been one of the most meaningful parts of my undergraduate experience,” Yockey said. He is especially grateful for the ways that the program gave him “the opportunity to connect with peers who are interested in similar questions.” 

Yockey believes that the best part of the fellowship is the students he has been able to meet and connect with through the program and the conversations sparked by colloquia and speaker events. 

“I’ve had some really wonderful—intense, but good-faith—debates with people,” he says, “I tremendously respect the entire Tocqueville cohort and have really enjoyed getting to know such an ideologically diverse group of people. It’s made me a much better scholar and really grounded my education.”

Article contributed by CCCG Writing Fellow Merlot Fogarty.