April 26, 2021
Cherry blossoms in front of law school building

Gift Establishes Project to Study U.S. Constitution and Catholic Intellectual Tradition

On Tuesday, April 20, The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law received a $4.25 million gift to establish The Project for Constitutional Originalism and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. 

Made by an anonymous trust, the gift establishing the project is intended to create an intellectual center for the study of how the United States Constitution’s original, distinctly American vision of ensuring the protection and flourishing of the human person emulates important aspects of the Catholic intellectual tradition.  

Using the lens of U.S. history, culture, and originalism scholarship, affiliated faculty and students will study the compatibility of the Constitution and Catholic thought over a wide range of constitutional issues. The project will foster consideration of the nature of the human person and the structures of civil society that the Constitution seeks to protect and allow to flourish, as well as the peculiarly American approach to government, political life, and the common good expressed in the Constitution, key founding documents, and originalist jurisprudence.

Catholic Law in our nation’s capital is uniquely situated to undertake the scholarly endeavor of identifying significant points of contact between the U.S. Constitution and a couple thousand years of Catholic thought,” said law school Dean Stephen C. Payne. “We are grateful to the anonymous donor for entrusting us with this important project.”   

This generous gift will allow the University to hire a number of faculty and staff members to support the project, as well as to support the related research of existing faculty members and activities such as conferences, debates, fellowship opportunities, and student programming. It will also fund the renovation of three thousand square feet on the Law School’s first level, transforming the space into offices and conference rooms for the school’s centers and institutes.  

The project will begin as a three-year program of the law school’s Center for Law and the Human Person, after which time the Law School and supporting donor will assess whether it should be expanded into a larger constitutional law center at the school.

“We expect to be able to attract top-tier talent to participate in this project and have every expectation that it will succeed and grow,” said Dean Payne.

This gift was made as part of Light the Way: The Campaign for Catholic University, the University’s first comprehensive campaign, which to date has raised more than $356 million toward the Campaign’s $400 million goal. The establishment of new institutes and special programs; the addition of new and innovative areas of research; and updates to the law school building are Campaign priorities for the Columbus School of Law. This generous gift helps the law school realize those goals and continue to develop law students who will serve the common good.