Fidelity to Our Imperfect Constitution: For Moral Readings and Against Originalisms by James E. Fleming, Professor of Law & The Honorable Frank R. Kenison Distinguished Scholar
Thursday, September 24, 2015
12:45 – 2:00pm
Barristers Hall, Ground Floor
Boston University School of Law
Co-sponsored by the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society
In recent years, some have asked “Are we all originalists now?” and many have assumed that originalists have a monopoly on concern for fidelity in constitutional interpretation. In Fidelity to Our Imperfect Constitution (Oxford University Press, 2015), James Fleming rejects originalisms—whether old or new, concrete or abstract, living or dead. Instead, he defends what Ronald Dworkin called a “moral reading” of the United States Constitution, or a “philosophic approach” to constitutional interpretation. He refers to conceptions of the Constitution as embodying abstract moral and political principles—not codifying concrete historical rules or practices—and of interpretation of those principles as requiring normative judgments about how they are best understood—not merely historical research to discover relatively specific original meanings. Through examining the spectacular concessions that originalists have made to their critics, he shows the extent to which even they acknowledge the need to make normative judgments in constitutional interpretation. Fleming argues that fidelity in interpreting the Constitution as written requires a moral reading or philosophic approach. Fidelity commits us to honoring our aspirational principles, not following the relatively specific original meanings (or original expected applications) of the founders. Originalists would enshrine an imperfect Constitution that does not deserve our fidelity. Only a moral reading or philosophic approach, which aspires to interpret our imperfect Constitution so as to make it the best it can be, gives us hope of interpreting it in a manner that may deserve our fidelity.
To celebrate the publication of this timely and significant book, we have invited three distinguished scholars to comment on it. Professor Fleming will respond.
Welcome: Dean Maureen O’Rourke, BU School of Law
Moderator: Gary Lawson, Philip S. Beck Professor of Law, BU School of LawCommentators:
Jack M. Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment, Yale Law School
Jamal Greene, Vice Dean and Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
Katharine G. Young, Associate Professor of Law, Boston College Law School
Copies of the book will be available for purchase and Professor Fleming will be signing them.
All – including not only professors, law students, graduate students, and undergraduates, but also alumni and the general public – are welcome to attend the symposium. If you have academic questions about the program, please contact Professor Gary Lawson, email@example.com.
Boston University Law School
September 25 - 26, 2015
In their landmark book, Patent Failure, James Bessen and Michael Meurer demonstrated that “notice failure” lies at the heart of the current crisis in patent law. Without sufficient and timely notice of the existence and scope of patent entitlements, innovators face risk and uncertainty which can hobble investment, transactions, and economic growth. Notice issues, moreover, are not limited to patent law: problems with notice - from the opaque nature of complex statutes to the fuzzy boundaries of many intellectual property doctrines - can lead to public frustration, litigation, inefficiencies, and chilling effects. This conference explores some of the challenges associated with notice and notice failure in patent, copyright, design patent, publicity, trade secret, and trademark law.
Boston University Law School
October 2-3, 2015
If you are interested in participating in the conference, which will be held at Boston University Law School on October 2-3, 2015, please send an abstract or draft of the paper you would like to present to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than May 29, 2015. Please include your name, current position, and contact information in the e-mail accompanying the submission. Authors of accepted papers will be notified by June 30, 2015.
Any questions concerning the workshop should be directed to the organizers: Professor David Webber (email@example.com), Professor Jessica Erickson (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Professor Verity Winship (email@example.com).
Featuring Michael J. Glennon, the William & Patricia Kleh Visiting Professor in International Law
Boston University School of Law
October 29, 2015
12:45pm - 2:00pm
Michael J. Glennon is Professor of International Law at The Fletcher School at Tufts University. He will be the William and Patricia Kleh Visiting Professor in International Law at Boston University School of Law for Fall 2015. Prior to going into teaching, he was Legal Counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (1977-1980). He has since been a Fulbright Distinguished Professor of International and Constitutional Law, Vytautus Magnus University School of Law, Kaunas, Lithuania (1998); a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C. (2001-2002); Thomas Hawkins Johnson Visiting Scholar at the United States Military Academy, West Point (2005); Director of Studies at the Hague Academy of International Law (2006); and professeur invité at the University of Paris II (Panthéon-Assas) from 2006 to 2012. Professor Glennon has served as a consultant to various congressional committees, the U.S. State Department, and the International Atomic Energy Agency. He is a member of the American Law Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Board of Editors of the American Journal of International Law. Professor Glennon is the author of numerous articles on constitutional and international law as well as several books.
This lecture is made possible through the generosity of Patricia and William H. Kleh (’71), who established the William & Patricia Kleh Visiting Professorship in International Law in February 2011.
To register for this event, please click here.