The Dignity Rights Clinic (DRC) is Delaware Law School’s newest clinic and the first law school clinic in the world dedicated to advancing the principle of human dignity under law. The Clinic provides legal services to clients in non-representational matters to help shape the law’s commitment to the protection and promotion of the inherent, inalienable, and equal worth of every person, everywhere.
The DRC is part of the Dignity Rights Project and builds on the work that students in the Dignity Rights Practicum have been doing since 2016. The Clinic, like the Practicum, also works with the Dignity Rights Initiative, a non-profit organization founded by Professors Erin Daly and James R. May.
Dignity rights are the legal rights that flow from the recognition of the equal worth of every "member of the human family." Because human worth is implicated in every aspect of life, dignity rights protect the full range of the human experience, including rights to freedom of conscience and political participation, rights to equality and equal treatment, rights to live with dignity (including the right to health, to education, to a healthy environment, and so on) and rights to express one’s own identity and have agency over one’s own life course (including rights to marriage equality, family life, and so on). In short, they comprise all the rights necessary to be treated “as a person.” Clinical work may involve any of these sets of rights.
Indeed, dignity rights have been recognized in the constitutions of more than 160 countries and have been implicitly recognized by courts in constitutional systems even where they are not explicit, as in the United States. At the same time, dignity rights are the backbone – the source and the very purpose – of international human rights law, recognized in the International Bill of Rights as well as in regional human rights instruments in the Americas, Europe, and Africa. In 2019, the American Bar Association resolved that dignity rights are the “foundation of a just rule of law” and established a Dignity Rights Initiative which works in partnership with the Law School’s Dignity Rights Project.
The Dignity Rights Clinic is offered in both fall and spring semesters for 3 credits each semester. Students are not required to take both semesters but may be given permission to do so on an individual basis.