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Events and Activities - Dignity Rights Project

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Professors Jim May and Erin Daly submitted an Amicus Brief on behalf of more than 60 Law Professors in Support of Plaintiffs Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana and others, in atmospheric trust litigation brought by Our Childrens' Trust against the Government for actions contributing to climate change. When the District Court found that the young plaintiffs had adequately pled (among other things) that the government had violated their substantive due process rights to liberty under Fifth Amendment, the Administration asked the 9th circuit for an extraordinary writ of mandamus on the ground that holding a trial would violate separation of powers. The brief argues that the district court's decision did not constitute "clear error" and that the decision below was consistent with a long line of Supreme Court cases on the due process clauses that recognize that liberty interests are not frozen in time but can adapt to new circumstances. It further argued that, neither the fact that a case raises new, nor important, nor complex issues of policy justifies withdrawing the claim from the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Finally, the brief argues that issuing a writ under these circumstances would allow the Defendants to avoid judicial oversight and ignore core federal judicial functions to determine the meaning of a constitutionally protected fundamental right. You can read the full brief here.

Dignity Rights Practicum

Each year, the DRP offers a Dignity Rights Practicum for JD and LLM students at Delaware Law School. Students work in groups or individually with partners to help develop theoretical arguments and practical strategies to advance dignity rights. Students talk about their experience in this video. This semester, students are working with

  • an environmental law clinic in Colombia to help protect coral reefs to sustain the dignity of the indigenous groups who depend on it
  • an immigration lawyer helping to protect the dignity of war refugees in Europe
  • a civic organization for Roma Youth in Albania seeking to protect the dignity of the Roma community in their access to voting and protection from discrimination
  • a grassroots organization advancing environmental justice for residents of Wilmington, Delaware
  • the Lenape Tribe of Delaware, seeking to advance tribal dignity through enhanced understanding, communication, and reconciliation with other communities in the state.

Past classes have included partnerships with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (working on UN reparations for cholera epidemic) and Center for Environmental Rights in Cape Town, South Africa.

"Being a part of the Dignity Rights Project and taking the practicum course has been one of the most rewarding experiences I've had during law school thus far."

-Madison McGuirk, 2L, Delaware Law

“The Dignity Rights Project is an exciting and challenging experience because we get to discuss complex subjects with professors who value their students' thoughts and opinions.  We get to create a body of legal research that has the potential to directly help our partners in achieving their goals.”

-Kacee Benson, Evening Division, 2L

Please contact us if you would like to discuss opportunities for partnering with our students.

Virtual Workshops

The Dignity Rights Project hosted its Inaugural Virtual Workshop for practitioners and scholars dedicated to advancing dignity rights. In addition to observers from diverse regions, participants from Uruguay, the UK, Portugal, Norway, Nigeria, Bhutan, Israel, and the United States spoke on issues as diverse as indigenous rights, social and environmental dignity, the rights of inmates, and more.

You can see the Programwatch the video and read Stephen Kass's opening comments and Catherine Dupre's closing comments.

The next Virtual Workshop will take place in November 2017. Please contact Erin Daly or Jim May to participate as a speaker or observer.


In July 2017, the DRP and PILnet, The Global Network for Public Interest Law, held a Webinar for human rights lawyers from across the MENA region to discuss right to dignity which is protected in most of the constitutions of the region and features prominently especially in the post-Arab Spring constitutions. Dignity could serve as a framework for advancing human rights in cases ranging from the conditions of detention, to free speech and free association, to access to education, food, and shelter. Professors Daly and May also met with PILnet's 2017 Fellows from South Africa, Lebanon, and the United States.

This was the first in a series of events to be held jointly with PILnet.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the webinar, or about opportunities for other video programming.