Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Be there or be square

Patrick D’s Tocqueville Forum, noted earlier today, has a great schedule for this year, with an event coming up later this week.

Here’s Patrick’s description:

The Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy is pleased to announce a Colloquium on the subject of "Natural Right, Constitutionalism and the Law." The colloquium will feature lectures by Hadley Arkes of Amherst College; J. Budziszewski of the University of Texas at Austin; and Charles Kesler of Claremont McKenna College.


This colloquium will explore the connection - if any - between Natural Right and constitutionalism. Are rights and the law a result of contract and convention? Must laws and the constitution itself have an ultimate basis in nature, or natural right, in order to attain legitimacy? Does Natural Right set a limit upon what can be regarded as constitutional and/or lawful? In a day when issues of gay marriage and abortion - among other issues - convulse the nation, questions regarding the status of Natural Right lie at the heart contemporary debates over jurisprudence and the law.


The Colloquium is scheduled to take place on Friday, October 12 from 1-5 p.m. Each presenter will lecture and then respond to questions for 45 minutes with a 15-minute break between lectures; the final hour will consist of a plenary roundtable during which presenters will respond to each other and questions by its moderator and the audience. A reception will follow the final plenary session at 5 p.m.


The Colloquium will be held at the new Tocqueville Forum conference room on the 3rd floor of 3307 M. Street.

Wish I could be there. Folks in the D.C. area don’t have the excuse of being over 600 miles away. How else are you going to spend your Friday afternoon??

Discussions - 2 Comments

Sadly, not there, but teaching here in Ohio. Are those events recorded as the Ashbrook events are?

I did have the opportunity to hear the Oct. 12 colloquium. Deneen very sensibly had three first rate thinkers who are in agreement that natural law/rights do inform the Constitution, so there was none of the usual "yes it does, no it doesn't" sterility that wastes everyone's time. Questions about the precise way in which natural law applies in constitutional interpretation and about current issues were discussed at greater depth than might be expected. There are interesting differences among the speakers, for example, on the issue of the American obligation/interest in promoting republican government in the Middle East and elsewhere. As the Framers themselves were not in full agreement on such foreign policy questions, this tension among natural law proponents today is not surprising, and is also well worth exploring.
The audience, mostly students of Georgetown and other local universities, were entirely in sympathy with the proposition and asked thoughtful practical questions.
One comes away with two impressions: first, that sadly this, the proper, understanding of the basis of constitutional govt. is completely unrepresented among federal officials today; but second, the next generation of students and future leaders may well be better equipped to participate in governing with a superior grasp of the principles of self-govt.

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