The Hoover Institution hosted "The "First Things" of American Constitutionalism: A Conversation with Hadley Arkes" on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 from 12:00pm - 2:00pm EST.
Our Constitution's Bill of Rights says that certain rights must not be "abridged," "infringed," "violated," or "disparage[d]"-implying that those rights existed before the Constitution itself. And indeed, our Declaration of Independence announced that "all men ... are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights."
But what does this mean for the day-to-day work of our courts? If these natural rights are presumptions upon which our written Constitution was based, then how should judges and lawyers identify, elaborate, and incorporate those rights into legal arguments and judicial opinions? And how should elected officials take those rights into account in the legislative and executive branches?
Perhaps no one has pursued these questions as thoroughly as Prof. Hadley Arkes. Previously the Edward Ney Professor of Jurisprudence at Amherst College (where he taught for five decades), he now is the founder and director of the James Wilson Institute on Natural Rights and the American Founding.
Prof. Arkes joins a conversation on natural law and American constitutionalism, drawing upon the deep body of thought embodied in his many books and articles.