Schiltz on Exposing the Cracks in the Foundations of Disability Law

Elizabeth Rose Schiltz (University of St. Thomas School of Law) has posted Exposing the Cracks in the Foundations of Disability Law. This paper was presented at the September 9, 2011 Law & Contemporary Problems symposium, “Theological Argument in Law: Engaging with Stanley Hauerwas,” held at Duke Law School. The abstract follows. – ARH

The theologian Stanley Hauerwas has described people with intellectual disabilities as “the crack I desperately needed to give concreteness to my critique of modernity. No group exposes the pretensions of the humanism that shapes the practices of modernity more thoroughly than the mentally handicapped.” Indeed, modern practices with respect to the mentally handicapped are undeniably puzzling. On the one hand, advances in the ability to prenatally diagnose genetic conditions that cause mental retardation are widely heralded and enthusiastically embraced, as evidenced by the declining numbers of children born with Down Syndrome worldwide, despite the fact that advancing maternal ages should be resulting in an increase in those numbers. On the other hand, laws that express a strong commitment to the equal treatment of our fellow citizens with disabilities continue to be enacted – from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1975, ensuring the education of children with disabilities in our public schools, to the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities in public accommodations and employment, to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act in 2008, prohibiting employers or health insurers from discriminating based on information from genetic tests.

Hauerwas diagnoses these puzzling inconsistencies in contemporary society’s attitudes toward the disabled as evidence of the flaws of modern humanism. Humanism’s emphasis on rationality and capacity for reason is the most obvious target of any critique focused on people with intellectual disabilities, whose capacity for reason is, by definition, compromised to some degree. Read more

Hamoudi on The Surprising Irrelevance of Islamic Bankruptcy

Haider Ala Hamoudi (University of Pittsburgh – School of Law) has posted The Surprising Irrelevance of Islamic Bankruptcy.  This paper was first presented on September 16, 2011, at the “Religion and Bankruptcy: Perspectives Thereon and Treatment Therein” Symposium, held at St. John’s School of Law, and co-hosted by the Center for Law and Religion.  The abstract follows. – ARH

By any standard of logic, the influence of the shari’a should be far more relevant in the area of bankruptcy than it is. Understanding the sources of the broad marginalization of shari’a as it relates to modern bankruptcy law in the Muslim world tells us much about the sharply limited legal scope of Islamic revivalism as concerns economic and commercial matters and perhaps even a little bit about Islamism’s limited legal ambitions more generally.

Benedict XVI: Message on Interfaith Understanding & Peace in the Holy Land

On November 10, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the Israeli Religious Council—a committee comprising leaders of Israel’s primary religious communities—at a Vatican meeting.  (Significantly, Benedict addressed the Council on the 73rd anniversary of Kristallnacht (1938).)  Among those present were Israel’s Chief Rabbi, Yona Metzger, and a delegate described as “the head imam of Israel.”  This was the first time a Pope, according to, has held such a summit.  (See a video report of the meeting here.)

Founded in 2007, the Israeli Religious Council is a body consisting of representatives from eighteen different communities in Israel—including Jews, Muslims, and Christians—and its purpose is to foster interfaith awareness and dialogue.

The Pope’s message emphasized interfaith understanding to the end of promoting peace, particularly in the Middle East.  He differentiated, on the one hand, between violence motivated directly by religion and, on the other, violence that is simply the consequence of modern secular society.  In Pope Benedict’s view, simple interfaith understanding—which would theoretically end direct interfaith violence—will not generate lasting peace in the world; rather, an understanding of divine love and justice will be the source of lasting reconciliation in modern society, regardless of the mediating faith through which one chooses to understand such divinity.

For excerpts of Benedict’s address, please follow the jump.

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