Catholic University’s Law School Launches New Project on the Constitution with Justice Alito as Honorary Chair of Advisory Council


Catholic University of America’s law school, the Columbus School of Law, has launched its newly established Project on Constitutional Originalism and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition (CIT), with programming to begin this fall. The Project is the first-ever academic initiative dedicated to exploring the moral foundations of constitutional originalism in light of the Catholic intellectual tradition and the American experience of constitutional self-government.

“There is a vigorous, serious debate occurring right now among scholars from across the political and jurisprudential spectrum about whether originalism is morally justifiable,” according to CIT’s Director, Professor J. Joel Alicea. “Now is the perfect time, and Catholic Law is the perfect place, to launch this project, discuss these critiques, and explore whether and how originalism is grounded in the natural law.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., has been named the Honorary Chair of the Advisory Council for this new initiative, and he will deliver the inaugural lecture of the Project in September 2022. “We are deeply honored that Justice Alito has agreed to deliver CIT’s inaugural lecture and to chair our Advisory Council,” Alicea said. “We cannot think of a better way to launch and underscore CIT’s important mission.”  

CIT is dedicated to promoting scholarship and programming that explores the relationship between the Catholic intellectual tradition and American constitutionalism. Although the primary focus is on theories of constitutional law, such as originalism, the initiative’s scope covers the relevance of the Catholic intellectual tradition for constitutional history, doctrine, and other fields of study. 

Catholic Law Dean Stephen C. Payne said he is “confident that CIT will become the foremost center of scholarly conversation about the relationship between the Catholic intellectual tradition and American constitutionalism, and that it will be effective in reaching beyond the academy to the legal profession, think tanks, and the broader public.”

Programs will include guest lectures, conferences, courses offered through the Columbus School of Law, a program on the Catholic intellectual tradition for young lawyers in the Washington, D.C., area, and special events and offerings for students at Catholic University. 

CIT is being funded through an anonymous $4.25 million gift that was announced last year.

In addition to Justice Alito, the members of the newly formed CIT Advisory Council are:

J. Budziszewski
Professor of Government and Philosophy
The University of Texas at Austin

Richard Ekins
Professor of Law and Constitutional Government
University of Oxford

Nicole Stelle Garnett
John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law
Notre Dame Law School

Sherif Girgis
Associate Professor of Law
Notre Dame Law School

Francis Russell Hittinger
Professor Emeritus of Catholic Studies, University of Tulsa
Senior Fellow, Institute for Human Ecology, The Catholic University of America
Visiting Professor, Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Maris Köpcke
Lecturer, Faculty of Law
University of Barcelona

Kurt Lash
Claiborne Robins Distinguished Professor of Law
University of Richmond School of Law

Rev. Dominic Legge, O.P.
Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology
Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception

Jeffrey A. Pojanowski
Professor of Law
Notre Dame Law School

Lee J. Strang
John W. Stoepler Professor of Law & Values
The University of Toledo College of Law

For more information about CIT, visit the website or contact Professor Alicea at