New Princeton program to explore constitutional law and government

Feb. 20, 2001, 4:01 p.m.

A new Princeton University program aimed at exploring issues of constitutional law and government is sponsoring a series of lectures this spring, including a talk by John DiIulio Jr., the director of President Bush's new White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

The James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions was created last summer to support scholarship, teaching and public debate on the relationship between political thought and public law. It "opens new areas of research for scholars who are interested in fundamental questions that Americans have debated since the nation's founding," said Jeffrey Herbst, chairman of the Department of Politics.

Program director Robert P. George, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, said the Madison program will "focus on basic principles of constitutional democracy, inquiring into the proper relationship of civil society and law." Among the questions studied by scholars in the program are many issues recently in the public spotlight, such as November's presidential election, judicial independence, executive leadership, and the place of religion in American public life.

The program sponsors numerous teaching and research initiatives. Applications are now being accepted from scholars interested in becoming visiting fellows for the 2001-02 academic year. A major conference, on the Declaration of Independence, has been scheduled for next fall. In addition, the program supports course development in constitutional studies and political thought, and will award an annual prize to the undergraduate whose senior thesis best contributes to understanding American ideals and institutions.

The Madison Program also sponsors campus lectures such as the John M. Olin Foundation Lectures on the Moral Foundations of American Democracy, which are free and open to the public. In the spring semester's first lecture, Judge Edith Jones, who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, will speak on "Contemporary Threats to the Rule of Law," Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. in Room 104 of the Computer Science Building.

DiIulio, a widely published expert on faith-based programs and juvenile crime, is slated to lecture on "Compassionate Conservatism," especially as it relates to his new position in the Bush administration. His lecture is planned for 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 27, in 50 McCosh Hall.

Contact: Justin Harmon (609) 258-3601