Mr. Sekulow attended Atlanta Baptist College, today known as Mercer University. It was around that time, he has said, that he became a Christian, in part because of the influence of a college friend, Glenn Borders, who led him through an exploration of the Bible. He would go on to be active in Jews for Jesus, an organization of evangelical believers of Jewish ancestry.
In a first-person biography on the Jews for Jesus website, he wrote that during his reading of the Old and New Testaments, “my suspicion that Jesus might really be the messiah was confirmed.” At a later gathering, “they invited people who wanted to commit their life to Jesus to come up the aisle to meet with them at the front of the church,” Mr. Sekulow wrote. “I responded to that invitation.”
After graduating from law school at Mercer, Mr. Sekulow worked briefly at the Internal Revenue Service, then opened a law firm in Atlanta with a few Mercer classmates and his brother Gary. Working a network of contacts, including a local pastor, Mr. Sekulow swiftly moved from routine real estate closings and wills to a business renovating and flipping historic properties, at the time a popular tax shelter for the wealthy.
The venture imploded in 1986, a development Mr. Sekulow omits from his Jews for Jesus biography. Mr. Sekulow; his brother Gary; his father, Stanley; his law partner Stuart Roth; and their business associates were sued for fraud and securities violations. They declared bankruptcy, leaving a trail of unpaid debts.
Within a year of his bankruptcy, Mr. Sekulow reinvented himself as a litigator for the Christian right. As general counsel for Jews for Jesus, he argued before the Supreme Court and won a 9-to-0 victory in 1987, successfully making the case that by banning Jews for Jesus from distributing pamphlets at Los Angeles International Airport, the Board of Airport Commissioners violated the group’s First Amendment rights.
Within months Mr. Sekulow founded his own faith-based advocacy group, Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, or CASE, to meet, Mr. Sekulow wrote, “a growing need to challenge the state’s infringement upon the right of Christians to proclaim the gospel” in “parks, school campuses at every level, malls, street corners and, of course, airports.”
Mr. Sekulow won a string of Supreme Court cases in the early and mid-1990s by arguing that bans on various forms of religious expression in public places violated the practitioners’ right to free speech.