2003 Annual Student Symposium - "Law and Human Dignity"

Notre Dame Law School

The transcendent dignity of the human person and the relation of that dignity to political freedom have long been prominent themes in American jurisprudence.  The Constitution, for example, reflects the Framers’ views of human dignity and its implications, and courts throughout our history have further interpreted and applied these views.  The concept has also played a role in statutory development.  The criminal laws of the several States reflect common notions of human dignity in the ways they define and punish crime.  The developing field of bio-ethics reflects a predominant concern with maintaining human dignity in the face of utilitarian temptations.  At times, differing perspectives on this theme have caused conflict.  Indeed, one of the principal causes of the Civil War involved inherently incompatible ideas about the innate worth and dignity of a certain class of Americans.

At the same time the term human dignity conveys a number of different meanings.  Certainly in Roman Catholicism it includes connotations that neither atheists nor other religions, including Protestantism, necessarily share.  The hope is that this conference will not only explore concepts of human dignity and the law, but also clarify confusion resulting from the same term being used to convey different meanings.

–Symposium Committee, Notre Dame Law School Federalist Society


Friday, February 21

6:45 p.m.
Welcome and Introduction

  • Dean Patricia O'Hara, Notre Dame University
  • Hon. David M. McIntosh, Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP and Vice Chairman, Federalist Society Board of Directors

7:00 p.m.
Panel: Technology, Ethics & Human Dignity

  • Prof. Richard Epstein, University of Chicago Law School
  • Prof. Maura Ryan, University of Notre Dame
  • Prof. David Hyman, University of Maryland School of Law
  • Moderator: Hon. Diarmuid O’Scannlain, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Saturday, February 22

9:00 a.m.
Panel: Crime, Punishment, and Human Dignity

  • Prof. Gerard Bradley, Notre Dame Law School
  • Prof. Kyron Huigens, Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University
  • Prof. Michael Seidman, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Prof. Stephen J. Morse, University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • Moderator: Prof. G. Marcus Cole, Stanford Law School

11:00 a.m.
Debate: Religious Freedom and Human Dignity

  • Mr. Kevin ‘Seamus’ Hasson, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
  • Rev. Barry Lynn, Americans United for Separation of Church and State
  • Moderator: Father John Coughlin, St. John’s University School of Law

1:45 p.m.
Panel: Theories of Welfare

  • Prof. Amy Wax, University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • Prof. Vincent Rougeau, Notre Dame Law School
  • Prof. Peter Edelman, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Mr. Michael Horowitz, Hudson Institute
  • Hon. Morris Arnold, U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • Moderator: Hon. Frank Easterbrook, U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

4:00 p.m.
Panel: International Law and Human Dignity

  • Prof. Juan Mendez, Notre Dame Law School
  • Prof. John McGinnis, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Prof.  W. Cole Durham, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University
  • Prof. Jeremy Rabkin, Cornell University
  • Moderator: Prof. Donald Kommers, Notre Dame Law School

7:00 p.m.

  • Hon. Alex Kozinski, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit