This course will examine the concept of dignity—its legal applications and theoretical foundations—with particular focus on the place of dignity in American law. We will begin by considering various historical and philosophical understandings of dignity. We will then explore the legal function of dignity from a comparative perspective. Although we will discuss dignity’s legal role in several countries, the course will emphasize the presence (and absence) of dignity in prominent areas of American constitutional law. In particular, we will delve into the relationship between dignity and U.S. due process and equality rights, notably with respect to abortion and LGBT rights. We will also look at dignity’s place in constitutional standing doctrine, an important aspect of U.S. structural constitutional law. The overall aim is to introduce students to the workings of dignity in a variety of legal settings.
- Teacher: Rachel Bayefsky