The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy is a group concerned about the pervasive conservative orthodoxy in American law and politics. We believe deeply in the importance of law as the mechanism which governs the relationships between and among the individuals and institutions that form our society, and we recognize the direct relationship between legal theory and the broader political debate about the kid of society in which we live. In recent years, the view has been ascendant that the traditional values of compassion and respect for human dignity have little or no place in legal discourse. This view permeates all aspects of legal debate: academic scholarship, judicial interpretation, and debate about laws proposed for enactment. The cornerstone of this legal view is an approach to understanding the United States Constitution that is essentially devoid of concern for the way in which the law affects the lives of the people who make up the nation in which we live. We believe, contrary to this conservative orthodoxy, that the law, and, in particular, the Constitution, serves human values. We believe that the Constitution is a charter of liberty, the blueprint for a noble and unique experiment designed to prevent the excesses of government in order to protect the human dignity necessary for individuals to realize the full potential of their lives. The goal of the Constitution, and the United States it created, is to permit people to succeed in the “pursuit of happiness,” one of the inalienable rights this national explicitly was founded to secure to the American people. We believe that the Constitution, and by extension, many other areas of American law, can be understood only by reference to principles of decency, reason, humanity, and compassion. We believe that those who enforce the law must have concern for the way in which it affects the lives of the people who make up the nation in which we live. And we believe these principles should form a starting point for enactment, as well as interpretation, of the law. The mission of the ACS is to harness these values of compassion and respect for each individual, and to reincorporate them into American law and politics, in order to build a stronger and more decent national community. We seek to restore the fundamental principles of respect for human dignity, protection of individual rights and liberties, genuine, equality under the law, and access to justice to their rightful—and traditionally central—place in American law. We want to strengthen the intellectual underpinnings of—and public case for—a vision of the law in which these values are paramount. Our goal is a rekindling of the hope that by reason and decency, we can create an America that is better for all of us.
Director of Diversity