One of America’s leading constitutional scholars discusses how the Founders intended to keep the federal government’s power in check, and how civil discourse and civic virtue can reform today’s highly fractured, hyper-partisan, political discourse.
By Professor Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence
and Director of the James Madison Program, Princeton University
Jim Kronzer Appellate Advocacy Classroom & Courtroom, Room 127
Sheila & Walter Umphrey Law Center
1114 South University Parks Drive, Waco, TX 76706
In his lecture, Professor George explained the system of constitutional structural constraints on the exercise of power by the federal government. Through these restraints, the American founders hoped to protect liberty, prevent tyranny, and create a form of republican government that would survive the pathologies that had destroyed all previous republics. Yet, as the founders themselves acknowledged, Professor George argued that this system of constraints are secondary or “auxiliary” protections. What is primary—and indispensable—is a supportive political culture that cannot exist in the absence of civic virtue. However, civic virtue itself cannot exist in the absence of flourishing non-governmental institutions of civil society that are its primary transmitters and upholders.
This course has been approved for Minimum Continuing Legal Education credit by the State Bar of Texas Committee on MCLE in the amount of 1 credit hour.
Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is also a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School. Professor George holds a courtesy appointment as a Distinguished Senior Fellow within Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion and in 2017, Baylor launched a new Washington, D.C.-based initiative named the “Robert P. George Initiative in Faith, Ethics, and Public Policy.”
In addition to his academic service, Professor George has served as Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He has also served on the President’s Council on Bioethics, as a presidential appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, and as the U.S. member of UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Science and Technology.
He is a former Judicial Fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award.
He serves on the boards of the John M. Templeton Foundation Religion Trust, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, and the Center for Individual Rights, among others.
Professor George is author of Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality (Oxford University Press, 1993), In Defense of Natural Law (Oxford University Press, 1999), The Clash of Orthodoxies (ISI, 2001) and Conscience and Its Enemies (ISI, 2013). He is co-author of Conjugal Union: What Marriage Is (Cambridge University Press, 2014), Embryo: A Defense of Human Life (2nd edition, Doubleday, 2011), Body-Self Dualism in Contemporary Ethics and Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2008), and What is Marriage? (Encounter, 2012). He is editor of several volumes, including Natural Law Theory: Contemporary Essays (Oxford University Press, 1992), The Autonomy of Law: Essays on Legal Positivism (Oxford University Press, 1996), Natural Law, Liberalism, and Morality (Oxford University Press, 1996), and Great Cases in Constitutional Law (Princeton University Press, 2000), and co-editor of the Cambridge Companion to Natural Law (Cambridge University Press, 2017)
Professor George’s articles and review essays have appeared in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the Columbia Law Review, the University of Chicago Law Review, the Review of Politics, the Review of Metaphysics, and the American Journal of Jurisprudence. He has also written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, First Things, the Boston Review, and the Times Literary Supplement.
A graduate of Swarthmore College, Professor George holds M.T.S. and J.D. degrees from Harvard University and the degrees of D.Phil., B.C.L., and D.C.L. from Oxford University. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Swarthmore and received a Frank Knox Fellowship from Harvard for graduate study in law and philosophy at Oxford. He holds twenty-one honorary degrees, including doctorates of law, letters, ethics, science, divinity, humane letters, civil law, law and moral values, humanities, and juridical science.
He is a recipient of the United States Presidential Citizens Medal, the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland, the Bradley Prize for Intellectual and Civic Achievement, the Philip Merrill Award of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, the Paul Bator Award of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy, the Sidney Hook Award of the National Association of Scholars, a Silver Gavel Award of the American Bar Association, the Charles Fried Award of the Harvard Law School Federalist Society, the Irving Kristol Award of the American Enterprise Institute, the James Q. Wilson Award of the Association for the Study of Free Institutions, and Princeton University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. Together with his friend and teaching partner Cornel West, he received the inaugural Leadership Award of Heterodox Academy.
He has given the John Dewey Lecture in Philosophy of Law at Harvard, the Guido Calabresi Lecture in Law and Religion at Yale, the Elizabeth Anscombe Memorial Lecture in Bioethics at Oxford, the Sir Malcolm Knox Lecture in Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and the Frank Irvine Lecture in Law at Cornell. Professor George is general editor of New Forum Books, a Princeton University Press series of interdisciplinary works in law, culture, and politics. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is Of Counsel to the law firm of Robinson & McElwee.