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Pre-Law Program Hosts Lecture by Leading First Amendment Scholar

Posted on 6 September 2013 | 10:29 am

The College of Charleston Pre-Law Program is hosting public events in honor of Constitution Day, which commemorates the signing of the United States Constitution in 1787. This year’s program features Professor Paul Horwitz of the University of Alabama School of Law, a leading young scholar of the First Amendment and a contributor to the well-known legal academic blog, Prawsblawg.  

Professor Horwitz will speak at two events on campus on Thursday, September 12, 2013. At 3:15 p.m. in Arnold Hall, in the Jewish Studies Center (96 Wentworth St.), he will lead a discussion of the themes of his 2011 book, The Agnostic Age: Law, Religion, and the Constitution (Oxford University Press). In this work, on the religion clauses of the Constitution, Professor Horwitz argues that government must take seriously the idea of religious truth, while nonetheless remaining uncommitted to affirming any such truths.

At 7:30 p.m. in the Alumni Center in the School of Education, Health and Human Performance, Professor (86 Wentworth St.), Horwitz will deliver the 2013 Constitution Day lecture, entitled “Honor, the Oath, and the Constitution.” In this lecture, Professor Horwitz will explore what meaning, if any, the republican idea of a constitutional oath can have for judges and legislators in our current political culture. Can members of Congress pass a bill that they think is unconstitutional, on the grounds that the courts can sort it out?  Can or must the President refuse to enforce an otherwise lawfully passed act of Congress if he thinks that it is unconstitutional — or refuse to defend it if it comes to court?

“Within the past few years, Paul Horwitz has become a major contributor to debates about law and religion,and the First Amendment more generally,” said Larry Krasnoff, professor of philosophy and director of the Pre-Law Program. “He is also a very clear and lively writer who has interesting things to say about a variety of constitutional issues.”

This is the third Constitution Day lecture since the Pre-Law Program expanded its efforts to include public programming on issues in the law. In 2011, Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution spoke on counterterrrorism and the rule of law, and in 2012, Peter Schuck of Yale Law School spoke about immigration law and policy.

This year’s lecture is co-sponsored by the Office of the Academic Experience, the First Year Experience, and the Departments of Philosophy and Political Science.  Those two departments have recently created a new concentration in Politics, Philosophy and Law, which has enrolled 45 students in just one year.

For more information, contact Larry Krasnoff at krasnoffl@cofc.edu.

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