Comparative Constitutional Law, Democracy, Law and Religion, Public Theology, Religion and Politics, Whither Europe?

Panel on “Human Dignity and Common Good Constitutionalism”

This week I will be attending the sixth conference of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies in Cordoba, Spain. The conference’s general theme is: “Human Dignity, Law, and Religious Diversity: Designing the Future of Inter-Cultural Societies.”

John Witte, Jr., Director of the Center of Law and Religion at Emory University, will deliver the keynote address. Among the many other plenary speakers are also practitioners such as András Sajó, former judge of the European Court of Human Rights; Michael W. McConnell, former judge of the United States Federal Court of Appeals (10th Circuit); Nazila Ghanea, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief; Ján Figel, former European Union Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion and Belief outside the EU; W. Cole Durham, Jr, President of the G20 Interfaith Forum; Susan Kerr, Senior Advisor on Freedom of Religion or Belief at the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR); Heiner Bielefeldt, Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

I am organizing, together with Dr. Leonard Taylor (Lecturer in Law, Department of Social Sciences, Atlantic Technological University, Ireland), a panel on “Human Dignity and Common Good Constitutionalism.” The description of this panel, which also includes Dr. Conor Casey (Lecturer in Law, University of Liverpool School of Law & Social Justice), is as follows:

“The classical legal tradition conceives of law as ‘a reasoned ordering to the common good.’ The development of a recent theory described as Common Good Constitutionalism brings to the fore this longstanding tradition within jurisprudence to interrogate contemporary constitutional theory. We focus on the relationship of Common Good Constitutionalism with the modern discourse around human dignity and religious freedom. We query the trajectory of rights language with a concern for classical constitutional theory, a Thomist conception of justice, and the common good. Our purpose is to allow space for new theorizing about the future of human dignity as established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 in light of this emerging thought on Common Good Constitutionalism. For example, Adrian Vermeule’s book Common Good Constitutionalism: Recovering the Classical Legal Tradition (Polity Books) argues that a more ancient legal tradition can offer resources to constitutional thought and our understanding of human dignity and religious freedom. This departure point will offer scholars in this panel the opportunity to reimagine human dignity and religious freedom and clarify how the classical legal tradition might address and provide possibilities for a reasoned return of the classical roots of the political and social order today.”

For the entire program and other information, see


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