Call for Papers: “I Have Called You by Name: Human Dignity in a Secular World”

The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at Notre Dame has issued a call for papers for its 21st annual Fall Conference, “I Have Called You by Name: Human Dignity in a Secular World.” The conference will be held on November 11–13, 2021, in person at Notre Dame. The de Nicola Center welcomes abstracts that engage the theme of human dignity from a variety of points of departure, including theology, philosophy, political theory, law, history, economics, and the social sciences, as well as the natural sciences, literature, and the arts.

Abstract submissions due by July 30, 2021. For more information and to submit an abstract, visit this link.

Virtual Conference: “Race and Justice in America”

A note to our readers: A web conference, “Race and Justice in America,”will take place on June 23 at 7:00 pm on Zoom or YouTube live-stream. This event is part of the Lumen Christi Institute’s Catholic Criminal Justice Reform Network. Participants include Brandon Vaidyanathan (Catholic University of America), Herschella Conyers (University of Chicago Law School), and Darren Davis (Notre Dame). See the link for additional information on how to register.

Virtual Conference: “The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 Pandemic”

The University of Messina and LAWS-MDPI are co-sponsoring a seminar on “The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 Pandemic.” The seminar will be held on May 28th, at 4:00 pm Rome time on Microsoft Teams.

Please see the attached conference flyer below for the Microsoft Teams information and a list of speakers.

Call for Papers — Journal of Law, Religion and State

The Journal of Law, Religion and State extends the submission deadline for an issue on conversion, proselytization, and secularization to March 1st, 2021. Interested scholars can submit either full papers (between 8,000-10,000 words) or short case studies (up to 4000 words). The Issue will be published in 2021.

More detailed information and additional instructions for authors are available in the attached file.

A New Book on Pontius Pilate

I’ve been meaning to post this interesting-looking new book on Pontius Pilate and the trial of Jesus by David Dusenbury, a post-doc at Hebrew University: The Innocence of Pontius Pilate How the Roman Trial of Jesus Shaped History (Hurst). The Gospel accounts paint Pilate as an ambivalent figure, more or less forced by circumstances to issue a sentence of death against Jesus. According to Dusenbury, though, some early Christian writers went further, arguing that Pilate had in fact acted justly at the trial. Dusenbury maintains that arguments about Pilate’s “innocence” helped shape the emerging Christian theory of religious tolerance.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

The gospels and the first-century historians agree: Jesus was sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate, the Roman imperial prefect in Jerusalem. To this day, Christians of all churches confess that Jesus died ‘under Pontius Pilate’. But what exactly does that mean?

Within decades of Jesus’ death, Christians began suggesting that it was the Judaean authorities who had crucified Jesus—a notion later echoed in the Qur’an. In the third century, one philosopher raised the notion that, although Pilate had condemned Jesus, he’d done so justly; this idea survives in one of the main strands of modern New Testament criticism. So what is the truth of the matter? And what is the history of that truth?

David Lloyd Dusenbury reveals Pilate’s ‘innocence’ as not only a neglected theological question, but a recurring theme in the history of European political thought. He argues that Jesus’ interrogation by Pilate, and Augustine of Hippo’s North African sermon on that trial, led to the concept of secularity and the logic of tolerance emerging in early modern Europe. Without the Roman trial of Jesus, and the arguments over Pilate’s innocence, the history of empire—from the first century to the twentyfirst—would have been radically different.

Panel Friday on Stare Decisis, Justice, and the Rule of Law

I’m very happy to be participating in an online panel discussion this Friday on Stare Decisis, Justice, and the Rule of Law. The panel is part of The Global Summit on the Future of Constitutionalism, a huge conference put together by Professor Richard Albert of the University of Texas Law School. My co-panelists are Lisa Burton-Crawford (University of New South Wales Faculty of Law); Jeffrey Pojanowski (Notre Dame Law School); and Leonid Sirota (Auckland University of Technology). Andrea Pin (University of Padua) will moderate.

The title of my presentation: “How the Morality of the Rule of Law and Stare Decisis is More Like Vichyssoise Than Oatmeal.”

The panel is this Friday at 2:00. Registration is free! Zoom on by.

“Reconstructing Malice in the Law of Punitive Damages”

I’m pleased to announce that my new paper, Reconstructing Malice in the Law of Punitive Damages, will be published by the Journal of Tort Law next year. The paper is my first foray into tort law scholarship, though I have been teaching Torts for the last 3 years at St. John’s. Malice, in the common law of crime and tort, is a thorny subject with a complicated and ancient lineage. Indeed, there are interesting connections between law and religion, on the one hand, and notions of malice in the law, on the other. But malice’s legacy was questioned beginning in the 19th century with Holmes (and others including J.F. Stephen) and then repudiated more decisively in the work of 20th century tort law giants like William Prosser and criminal law giants like Herbert Wechsler.

This paper attempts to reconstruct a historically correct, conceptually coherent, and normatively compelling case for malice’s reintroduction into the law of punitive damages. It also speculates about the utility of this reconstructed account of malice in other fields, especially criminal law. Finally, though this paper does not approach this topic, it does suggest the possibility of reconstructivism as a broader theory of law and legal development, something about which I hope to write in the future. Here is the abstract.

Punitive damages present two related puzzles. One concerns their object. If they are punitive, their object is to punish tortfeasors. If they are damages, their object is to compensate tort victims. If they are both, as the Supreme Court has recently stated, the problem is to reconcile these different objects in applying them. A second puzzle involves their subject. Punitive damages are awarded for egregious wrongdoing. But the nature of that egregiousness is nebulous and contested, implicating many poorly understood terms. The two puzzles are connected, because the subject of punitive damages will inform their object. Once we know the type of wrongfulness that punitive damages deal with, we can understand better whether and how they are punishing, compensating, or both.

This Article reconstructs one of punitive damages’ central subjects: malice. In so doing, it clarifies one key object of punitive damages: to offer redress to a victim of cruelty. Malice is a ubiquitous textual element in the state law of punitive damages. But there has been little scholarly commentary about what malice means for punitive damages. Drawing from the common history of tort and criminal law, this Article identifies two core meanings of malice: a desire or motive to do wrong, and a disposition of callous indifference to the wrong inflicted. Though distinct, these meanings broadly coalesce in the concept of cruelty. The Article argues that this reconstructed account of the wrong of malice represents a powerful justification for awarding punitive damages. Malice as cruelty as a justification for punitive damages also fits within a broader view of tort law as redress for specific private wrongs. But malice as a subject of punitive damages clarifies and enriches this account of their object. A victim of a tort done with malice, and who is aware of it, has been wronged more gravely than a victim of a tort done without malice and is therefore entitled to greater redress.

Movsesian Named Co-Editor of the Journal of Law and Religion

We are delighted to announce that the Journal of Law and Religion (Cambridge University Press) has named Center Co-Director Mark Movsesian to its board of editors. Professor Movsesian will assist the interdisciplinary, peer-review journal in selecting and developing articles for publication.

“I am grateful for the invitation and am delighted to join the Journal‘s editorial board,” Professor Movsesian said. “I look forward to helping the journal continue to explore issues at the intersection of law and religion, both domestically, in the United States, and across the globe.”

More information about the Journal and its editorial board is here.

Moscow State University Roundtable

I was delighted to speak at a roundtable on law and religion at Lomonosov Moscow State University this morning, along with faculty colleagues from Russia, Greece, Canada, Italy and Israel. Comparative studies add so much to the understanding of church-state issues, and it is always striking how the same issues come up in so many cultures–though not the same answers. The questions from other scholars and the student participants were great. Thanks for Prof. Gayane Davidyan at Lomonosov for inviting me!

UPDATE: For anyone interested, Lomonosov has now posted the YouTube Video of the event:

Law & Religion Roundtable at Lomonosov-Moscow State (Nov. 25)

A programming note: on Wednesday, November 25, I will participate in a roundtable on law and religion sponsored by the Faculty of Law at Lomonosov Moscow State University. The roundtable, organized by Lomonosov Professor Gayane Davidyan, will take place online starting at 17:30 Moscow time. Visitors are welcome. Please use the You Tube link here. The roster for the roundtable, along with the titles of the presentations, is below. Stop by and say hello!

  • Mark Movsesian, Frederick A. Whitney Professor, Co-Director of Center for Law & Religion, St. John’s Law School, United States, Church-State Cases at the US Supreme Court in 2020
  • Lina Papadopoulou, Associate Professor, Law School, Academic Coordinator of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence “European Constitution and Religion”, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, God and the Constitution in a country (Greece) with a prevailing religion
  • Andrea Pin, Associate Professor, Department of Public, International and Community Law, University of Padua, Italy, The Constitution as an ID
  • Kathryn Chan, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria, Canada, The source and scope of religious freedom in Canada
  • Xavier Barre, Ph.D in Law, Avocat au barreau de Paris, Member of New York Bar and Advocat of Moscow Regional bar
  • Anton Kanevsky, Associate Professor of Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, Attorney in Jerusalem, The Divine Name in Earthly Affairs: Non-specific Talmudic Legal Principles and Israeli Practice
  • Gayane Davidyan, Associate Professor, School of Law, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Director Center of Law and Religion, Can God be Constitutional?