Constitutional Law Expert Hadley Arkes to Speak on Religious Freedom on March 26 | Benedictine College

Constitutional Law Expert Hadley Arkes to Speak on Religious Freedom on March 26

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dr. Hadley Arkes, a nationally known expert on constitutional law and a pioneer in the pro-life movement, will discuss national headlines in a public lecture set for 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 26, in the McAllister Board Room on the Benedictine College campus in Atchison, Kan.  Arkes is the Edward Ney Professor of American Institutions and Jurisprudence at Amherst College in Massachusetts and his lecture, “Recasting the Case for Religious Freedom,” will discuss constitutional law and natural rights.  The event, sponsored by the Benedictine College Gregorian Fellows, is free and open to the public.

Arkes was the main advocate and architect of the bill that became known as the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act.  That law, passed by the United States Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 2002, extends legal protection to an infant born alive after a failed attempt at induced abortion. He has also established the Committee for the American Founding, a group of Amherst alumni and students seeking to preserve the doctrines of "natural rights" taught by the American Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln.

Arkes has written extensively and his titles include: Bureaucracy, the Marshall Plan, and the National Interest (1972), The Philosopher in the City (1981), First Things (1986), Beyond the Constitution (1990), The Return of George Sutherland (1994), Natural Rights and the Right to Choose (2002).  His most recent book, Constitutional Illusions and Anchoring Truths: The Touchstone of the Natural Lawwas published in 2010. His articles have appeared in professional journals as well as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Weekly Standard, National Review, and First Things, a journal that took its name from his book of that title.

The account of his experience in moving the Born-Alive Infants bill through Congress is contained as an epilogue in his book, Natural Rights & the Right to Choose. He first prepared his proposal as part of the debating kit assembled for the first George Bush in 1988. The purpose of that proposal was to offer the "most modest first step" of all in legislating on abortion, and opening a conversation even with people who called themselves "pro-choice." Arkes proposed to begin simply by preserving the life of a child who survived an abortion, contrary to the holding of one federal judge that such a child was not protected by the laws. Arkes led the testimony on the bill before the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House in July 2000, then again in July 2001. The legislative calendar was upended in the aftermath of September 11th, but in March 2002, the bill was brought to the floor of the House, where it passed unanimously. To Arkes’ surprise, the bill was brought to the floor of the Senate on July 18 and passed in the same way. On August 5, President Bush signed the bill into law in a ceremony in Pittsburgh, with Arkes in attendance.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.

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