A lecture on natural rights and American constitutionalism will air on C-SPAN 3 at 8 p.m. and midnight EST Saturday (Dec. 16) as part of the channel’s Lectures in History series.
The lecture, part of a class titled “Church, State, and American Constitutionalism,” was delivered in September by Vincent Phillip Muñoz, Tocqueville Associate Professor of Religion and Public Life in the Department of Political Science and concurrent associate professor of law at the University of Notre Dame. In this lecture, Muñoz provides an overview of the American founders’ understanding of natural rights and how the founders attempted to protect these rights through a constitutional system of government.
“The goal of the class is to help students think more clearly and deeply about some of the most fundamental political and constitutional issues of our time,” Muñoz said. These issues include religious freedom, the proper relationship between church and state, First Amendment protections and whether religion is helpful or harmful to democracy.
“The lecture, I hope, will reacquaint viewers with some of the basic concepts at the core of our constitutional republic, including the meaning of equality, liberty, inalienable natural rights and government by consent,” Muñoz said. “The argument that animates the lecture, and the class as a whole, is that if we are going to interpret the First Amendment’s religious liberty protections in light of first principles, we have to have a deeper knowledge of those principles, including the founders’ natural rights constitutionalism.”
Muñoz is the founding director of Notre Dame’s undergraduate minor in constitutional studies and directs the University’s Tocqueville Program for Inquiry into Religion and Public Life. He is the author of “God and the Founders: Madison, Washington, and Jefferson” (Cambridge University Press, 2009) and “Religious Liberty and the American Supreme Court: The Essential Cases and Documents” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013).
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