Should America Return to the Natural Law Views of the Founding?

December 17, 2020
7 p.m. ET

About the event

A debate between notable scholar of the American founding Dr. V. Phillip Muñoz (Univ. of Notre Dame, Tocqueville Program), and Fr. Dominic Legge (Pontifical Faculty of the Dominican House of Studies, The Thomistic Institute), an expert on Thomas Aquinas, on how best to restore a robust natural law perspective to our contemporary political culture. Resolved: America should return to the natural law views of the founding.

About V. Phillip Muñoz

Vincent Phillip MunozVincent Phillip Muñoz is the Tocqueville Associate Professor of Political Science and Concurrent Associate Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame. He is the Founding Director of ND’s undergraduate minor in Constitutional Studies and also directs Notre Dame’s Tocqueville Program for Inquiry into Religion and Public Life. Under his leadership the programs have raised nearly $7,000,000 in the last three years.

Dr. Muñoz writes and teaches across the fields of constitutional law, American politics, and political philosophy with a focus on religious liberty and the American Founding. His first book, God and the Founders: Madison, Washington, and Jefferson (Cambridge University Press, 2009) won the Hubert Morken Award from the American Political Science Association for the best publication on religion and politics in 2009 and 2010. His First Amendment church-state case reader, Religious Liberty and the American Supreme Court: The Essential Cases and Documents (Rowman & Littlefield) was first published in 2013 (revised edition, 2015) and is being used at Notre Dame and other leading universities. In 2019, he joined the editorial team of American Constitutional Law (11th edition, Routledge, 2019), the leading constitutional law casebooks designed for undergraduate instruction.

Dr. Muñoz has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to support his current project, a scholarly monograph on the natural right of religious liberty and the original meaning of the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses. Articles from that project have appeared in American Political Science ReviewThe Harvard Journal of Law and Public PolicyNotre Dame Law ReviewAmerican Political Thought, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Journal of Constitutional Law.

An award-winning teacher and a popular lecturer, Dr. Muñoz has spoken at over 70 colleges and universities in the past several years. He received his B.A. at Claremont McKenna College, his M.A. at Boston College, and his Ph.D. at Claremont Graduate School.

About Fr. Dominic Legge

Fr. Dominic LeggeFr. Dominic Legge is the Director of the Thomistic Institute and an assistant professor in systematic theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. He holds a JD from Yale Law School, a PhL from the School of Philosophy of the Catholic University of America, and a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the University of Fribourg. He entered the Order of Preachers in 2001 and was ordained a priest in 2007. He practiced law for several years as a trial attorney for the US Department of Justice before becoming a Dominican. He is the author of The Trinitarian Christology of St. Thomas Aquinas.