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Published December 24 2010

Where are they now: Christian activist puts law to work

His first semesters studying law have been both rigorous and rewarding.

“If the Marines had a law school,” it would be like the Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Va., said Christian activist and former Fargo resident Martin Wishnatsky.

“It’s really been delightful,” said Wishnatsky, who already holds bachelor and doctoral degrees from Harvard University. “It’s very intellectually challenging.”

Best known for his anti-abortion activities, Wishnatsky left Fargo in August 2009 to earn a law degree at Liberty, which was founded by conservative evangelical pastor Jerry Falwell. And the controversial 66-year-old Wishnatsky is halfway there, having recently completed the first year-and-a-half of the three-year degree.

He finished his first semester at the top of his class, with a 3.75 GPA, he said. And he wrote a piece on the landmark abortion case, Roe v. Wade, which was published in the “Liberty Legal Journal.”

Paul Spinden, associate professor of law at Liberty, described Wishnatsky as “a delight to have in the classroom.”

“If we could have a whole student body of Martin Wishnatskys, we would be quite delighted,” Spinden said.

Wishnatsky estimates that over the years, he’s been arrested about 15 to 20 times for, what he calls, “intervening for the unborn.”

Spinden recalled being surprised when he learned of Wishnatsky’s activist past, saying it seemed “inconsistent with his demeanor.”

“He’s a rather low-key guy,” Spinden said.

But Spinden found Wishnatsky’s willingness to go to great lengths over the issue of abortion as perfectly consistent with the New Jersey native’s passion for that issue.

Wishnatsky plans to practice law after finishing school and is interested in working in any legal area “where Christians and biblical principles are under attack.” He is also interested in teaching.

Whether or not he’ll return to Fargo is still up in the air.

“I don’t really know at this point,” he said.

About this series

The holidays are when we remember years gone by and the memories they bring, both good and bad. Every day until Dec. 31, Forum writers will revisit stories from the past and the lives

of those who told them.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734