Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ethics at the Edges of Law

That's the title of a new book by Cathy Kaveny.  The subtitle:  Christian Moralists and American Legal Thought.  The book, published by Oxford University Press, "proposes new methodological approaches to Christian ethics-using law as a source and conversation partner; shows how religion can move beyond treating law as a locus of the culture wars to seeing it as a source of moral knowledge and wisdom; and demonstrates how examples from secular law can help us integrate special ethics, like medical ethics, with broader questions of social justice."  You can read about the book--and about Cathy--here.  Highly recommended:

"Cathleen Kaveny's new work brilliantly demonstrates not only that law can be a fruitful conversation partner for theological ethics, but that it is a necessary one. Her mastery of the fields of law, ethics, and theology is marshaled throughout as she probes perennially vexing problems and explores new questions. Highly original, sometimes provocative, always illuminating, Ethics at the Edges of Law is a tour de force." --Linda Hogan, Professor of Ecumenics and former Vice-Provost of Trinity College Dublin

"Ethics at the Edges of Law is one of the most important recent books at the intersection of law and theology. Kaveny's thoughtful and at times unconventional engagement with some of the major twentieth-century figures in these two disciplines offers glimmers of both tragedy and hope-and a reminder that our lived experiences unfold in the shadow of both."--John D. Inazu, Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion, Washington University in St. Louis

"Cathleen Kaveny is one of the most important scholars in the interdisciplinary field of law and religion since the field began to flourish about forty years ago. Ethics at the Edges of Law is a superb book. In it, Kaveny succeeds in doing precisely what she set out to do, namely, 'jump start . . . a complementary interdisciplinary conversation . . . centered in religious studies and theology and reaching out to the legal field.'"--Michael J. Perry, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law, Emory University

November 15, 2017 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Transformational Marriage: How to End the Culture Wars Over Same-Sex Marriage

That's the title of a new paper by Rob Kar, Professor of Law and Philosophy at the University of Illinois.  The paper is Rob's contribution to a volume edited by Robin Fretwell Wilson:   The Contested Place of Religion in Family Life (Cambridge University Press 2018).  Rob is eager for critical feedback on the paper:   rkr@illinois.edu.   The paper is available here.

The abstract:

Recent developments toward the legalization of same-sex marriage in the West are often viewed as a triumph for secularism in a religious-secular culture war. That assumption foments ongoing division and hostility between some committed religious observers and some LGBT persons and their supporters.

The assumption is also wrong. The recent legalization of same-sex marriage in the West has underappreciated religious and spiritual causes and potential. It is the partial result of the historical emergence of a love-based social institution of marriage in the West. These developments, which began in the 17th to 18th centuries, further allowed for the emergence of what this article calls "transformational marriage". Given the development of transformational marriage, there are now weighty reasons -- both religious and secular -- to support these marriages among anyone who chooses to enter into them. Debates over same-sex marriage should be removed from the contemporary religious-secular culture wars.

To show this, this chapter offers a blend of religious, scriptural, moral, secular and psychological arguments, which provide a basis for previously opposing camps to reach an "overlapping consensus" on the value of transformative marriage for all people. An overlapping consensus is the polar opposite of a religious-secular culture war: it is a consensus that can be affirmed, for different reasons, by the opposing religious, philosophical and moral doctrines likely to thrive over generations in a more or less just constitutional democracy. Hence, there are good reasons for people of good faith on all sides of this conflict to support the development of this overlapping consensus and remove the issue of same-sex marriage from the culture wars.

October 10, 2017 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Conscience v. Access

A new paper I've just posted to SSRN may be of interest to MOJ readers.  The paper--my contribution to a volume edited by William Eskridge and Robin Fretwell Wilson, Religious Freedom, LGBT Rights, and the Prospects for Common Ground (Cambridge University Press 2018)--is titled:

Conscience v. Access and the Morality of Human Rights,
With Particular Reference to Same-Sex Marriage

The paper is available here.  The abstract:

Little remains to be said about “conscience v. access” that has not already been said — and often well said. Or so it seems to me. (Not that a consensus has been achieved. Far from it.) But “little” is not “nothing”. My aim in this chapter: to bring the morality of human rights to bear, and to do so with particular reference to conscience-based opposition to same-sex marriage. In particular, my aim is to bring to bear two rights that are fundamental parts of the morality of human rights: the human right to religious and moral freedom and the human right to moral equality. On "the morality of human rights", see Perry, Michael J., A Global Political Morality: Human Rights, Democracy, and Constitutionalism (April 25, 2017) available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2956843.

The intuition of many persons — an intuition I share — is that the conscience-based claim for an exemption from an antidiscrimination law pressed by the florist (baker, photographer, etc.) who is morally opposed to same-sex marriage presents us with a more complex and difficult issue than the conscience-based claim for an exemption pressed by the florist who is morally opposed to interracial marriage. My argument in this chapter serves to provide a rational vindication of that intuition; it serves to explain why as a matter of principle — specifically, as a matter of the human right to moral equality — the two conscience-based claims merit different responses, even if it is not unreasonable for lawmakers, in legislating, or for judges, in adjudicating, to reach the conclusion that, all things considered, the former claim too should be rejected.

October 10, 2017 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Law Professor Lawrence Joseph: Acclaimed Poet

Lawrence Joseph, the Tinnelly Professor of Law at St. John’s University School of Law, is--as many of you know--an acclaimed poet.  Larry's new book of poems--his sixth--has just been published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.  Information about the book,  So Where Are We?, is available here.

And a wonderful interview with Larry that will appear in Commonweal in September is available now online (here).  Well worth reading!

August 23, 2017 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Global Political Morality: Human Rights, Democracy, and Constitutionalism

Yesterday I posted to SSRN the introduction to my new book.  Several issues I address in the book are issues that engage many MOJ readers:  the religious v. secular grounds of human rights (chapter 2); the human right to religious/moral freedom (chapter 4); the proper role of the judiciary in resolving constitutional controversies that are also moral controversies, such as the constitutional controversies over capital punishment, same-sex marriage, and abortion (chapters 5-6); and human rights of the socioeconomic sort—such as the human right to adequate healthcare—which are the sort of human rights with which Catholic social teaching has long been concerned (chapter 7).  Here is a link to the introduction.  The abstract:

This SSRN posting consists mainly of the introduction to my new book: A GLOBAL POLITICAL MORALITY: HUMAN RIGHTS, DEMOCRACY, AND CONSTITUTIONALISM (Cambridge University Press 2017). The “global political morality” to which the title refers is what I call “the morality of human rights”. In the book, as I explain more fully in the introduction, I pursue several related inquiries that lie at the interface of human rights theory, political theory, and constitutional theory.

The first two inquiries concern the morality of human rights: 1. What are “human rights”? 2. What reason (or reasons) do we have--if indeed we have any — to take human rights seriously?

The next two inquiries concern the relationship of the morality of human rights to democratic governance: 3. How does the morality of human rights support democratic governance? 4. How does the morality of human rights limit democratic governance? I address the latter question with particular reference to the human right to religious and moral freedom.

The final three inquiries concern the relationship of the morality of human rights to certain constitutionalism-related questions: 5. In the context of the Constitution of the United States, what theory of judicial review takes seriously both the human right to democratic governance and the other human rights that are limits on democratic governance? 6. What are the implications of that theory of judicial review — a theory that comprises a (limited) affirmation of an originalist understanding of constitutional interpretation — for the constitutional controversies over, respectively, capital punishment, race-based affirmative action, same-sex marriage, physician-assisted suicide, and abortion? 7. Should human rights of the socioeconomic sort, such as the human right to adequate healthcare, be constitutionalized — and if so, should they also be judicialized?

April 28, 2017 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Health Care and the Gospel

That's the title of a new piece by Timothy Stoltzfuss Jost in Commonweal.  The subtitle:  "Where Are the Lawmakers of Faith?"  Tim, who is Mennonite, is Robert L. Willett Family Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law.  I recommend Tim's piece (here) to all MOJ readers.  I was privileged to be Tim's colleague during 1981-82, which was my final year at Ohio State (before heading off to Northwestern for a fifteen-year stint) and Tim's first year there.

April 5, 2017 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Prophecy Without Contempt: Religious Discourse in the Public Square

That's the title of the book by Cathleen Kaveny that was published one year ago this month (Harvard University Press).  Professor Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor at Boston College, where she holds a joint appointment (School of Law, Department of Theology).

On Friday, April 7, 1:30-5:00 PM, at the McMullen Museum of Art, 201 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, there will be a program, focused on Professor Kaveny's book, entitled "Prophecy Without Contempt:  A Conversation About Religion, Identity, and Exclusion in Our New Political Era".  The three speakers are an extraordinarily impressive group:  Jonathan Lear, John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor, Committee on Social Thought and Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago; Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus, Department of Philosophy, McGill University; and Rowan Williams, 104th Archbishop of Cantebury and Master of Magdalene College, University of Cambridge.  Professor Kaveny will respond.  The program is presented by The Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy, Boston College. 

March 29, 2017 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Monday, January 30, 2017

Statement by Father John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president, University of Notre Dame ...

... on "[t]he sweeping, indiscriminate and abrupt character of President Trump’s recent Executive Order ...", here.

January 30, 2017 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

"Silence": Scorsese’s Spiritual Masterpiece

That's the title of a piece, in First Things, that Rick Garnett and I think many of you will be interested in.  You can read it here.  Rick and I have both been--long been--big fans of Shusaku Endo's 1966 novel, Silence--and have both been waiting forever for Scorsese's film version of the novel.

January 4, 2017 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Linking Abortion and Climate Change

That's the title of a post at dotCommonweal that will interest MOJ readers.  You can read the post here.

December 13, 2016 in Perry, Michael | Permalink