Jim Hochberg: Alliance Defending Freedom Allied Attorney
Hawaiian attorney Jim Hochberg was focused on the dominant issues of Alliance Defending Freedom long before he allied himself with the ministry.
Twenty-five years ago, as a young attorney, he remembers following the legal struggle to stop the removal of a lighted cross from a local military base. Not long after, he successfully represented a group of Christian parents who opposed the implementation of a public school computerized counseling program that denigrated churches and promoted homosexual behavior. Religious freedom was important to Hochberg, and when the opportunity finally came, in 1999, to attend his first Alliance Defending Freedom Academy, he was ready.
“It was really, really hard work,” he remembers. The constitutional legal training provided at the Academy involved hypothetical cases, role-playing, mock trials and cross-examinations, and plenty of homework every night. “It was a lot more work than I’d ever experienced at any other kind of legal seminar,” Hochberg says. “The quality of everything was just tops. It was great.”
In his 10-plus years with Alliance Defending Freedom, Hochberg has found himself involved in a wide variety of cases defending life, marriage (Hawaii has historically been at the epicenter of the struggle over same-sex and civil unions), and religious liberty, in a setting that – however beautiful – is not especially warm to a Christian attorney’s position on those issues.
“Most attorneys in Hawaii are probably much more ACLU-oriented than [Alliance Defending Freedom]-oriented,” he says. “You see these discussions about eliminating bias in the practice of law, and, of course, that could be a great thing … except the fingers are usually pointed at folks like us.” Cases like Hochberg’s latest – in which he’s defending an older couple whose polite refusal to let two lesbians stay in their home bed-and-breakfast led to a major lawsuit – are seen by many of his professional peers as exercises in legal bias against same-sex couples.
“I don’t think I’d be doing these cases if I didn’t have substantive legal support from Alliance Defending Freedom,” Hochberg says. “It enables me to accomplish very efficient, high-quality legal work, [and] to do this breadth of work for the Christian community.”