Models and Mirrors in Constitutional Theory

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The Saint John Paul II Guild of Catholic Lawyers, a student-led organization that promotes justice in the law and advances the intrinsic value of the human person through events at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law (Catholic Law), sponsored its annual Mirror of Justice lecture on Monday, February 26, in the Walter A. Slowinski Courtroom. This year’s lecture—part of the Guild’s longstanding series which recognizes legal scholars and encourages them to advance through law the pursuit of peace with justice—was delivered by Catholic Law professor J. Joel Alicea, Co-Director of the Project on Constitutional Originalism and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

Alicea’s lecture focused on the Marian epithet “Mirror of Justice” as found in the Catholic prayer of petition known both as the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary and as the Litany of Loreto. He noted that Mary, in her complete dedication to the Lord Jesus, serves as a model of Christian discipleship, and it is because she has modeled herself on her Son that she, in her purity, is a mirror of His justice. Alicea drew an analogy to constitutional theory: just as we need Mary as a model of Christian discipleship to distinguish good from poor discipleship, we need a sound moral framework to distinguish good from poor moral justifications for a constitutional theory.

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