Episode 26: Understanding Common Law with Jeff Shafer

Jeff discusses the concept of common law and its relevance in recent Supreme Court decisions, including Dobbs v. Jackson.


Episode 26: Jeff Shafer


What on earth is common law? In Refining Rhetoric’s last episode of 2022, Robert sits down with Jeff Shafer, the director of the Hale Institute, graduate of Regent University School of Law, former legal practitioner, and former senior counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom, to discuss the concept of common law and its relevance in recent Supreme Court decisions, including Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In the “Current Events Discussion,” Robert asks, “Should the Department of Education exist?” using the classical tools of learning to break down this topic. Finally, Will McCreery briefly looks at where the NFT market stands now, pointing out several practical use cases for NFTs in the “Classical Crypto” segment.


“The collapsing of the family has been a long-running project and goal of certain influential advocates in the Western world, and in our nation in particular, over the last century plus, I’d say, precisely because of what the family represents. That is, because of the unchosen givenness of family relations, which represents a kind of rebuke or refutation of this dangerous modern idea of freedom—that is, freedom understood in terms of unrestrained choice and self-definition.”

Jeff Shafer


  • Intro to Jeff Shafer [0:20]
  • What is the Hale Institute? [1:02]
  • What is common law? [2:00]
  • “The laws of nature and of nature’s God”: a reference in the Declaration of Independence to common law? [5:27]
  • How New Saint Andrew’s College is different than other law schools [10:59]
  • Shafer’s hope for students of New Saint Andrew’s College [13:30]
  • What do laws and families have to do with each other? [14:27]
  • How does common law relate to homeschooling? [20:53]
  • How common law is making a difference in 2022 and in the future [23:00]
  • Jeff’s comments on the West Virginia case limiting the EPA’s power [27:10]
  • Farewell to Jeff [28:44]
  • “Current Events Discussion”: Should the Department of Education exist? [29:28]
  • Ad: The Math Map (only available on CC Connected!) [35:00]
  • “Classical Crypto”: Where the NFT market stands now [36:49]