Legal scholar Michael Perry will come to campus
this fall as a Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law. Perry, one of
the nation’s leading authorities on the relationship of morality
to law, comes to Emory from Wake Forest University, where he holds
the University Distinguished Chair in Law.
“For the last 20 years, Michael Perry has been one of the
nation’s leading constitutional law scholars,” said
Tom Arthur, dean of the School of Law. “No contemporary scholar
in his field has probed more deeply the issues of law and morality,
or the dilemmas presented by using moral values to interpret the
individual rights provisions of the Constitution.”
“One of the major draws for Michael Perry is Emory’s
Law and Religion Program,” said interim Provost Woody Hunter.
Perry will be a welcome addition to the program, which already boasts
a world-class group of scholars who examine issues ranging from
religious human rights to the pros and cons of religious proselytism.
Perry’s work has focused on three distinct areas: American
constitutional law, the proper role of religiously grounded morality
in American law and politics, and the morality of human rights.
Arthur said Perry will complement Emory’s already diverse
roster of public law faculty. He also expects Perry’s work
will strengthen “bridges between the law school and other
parts of the University that are concerned with moral theory.”
“[Perry] is quintessentially interdisciplinary,” said
John Witte, Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law and Ethics, who chaired
the Woodruff selection committee. “He has brought legal, political,
social and moral theory into a rare and powerful combination.”
Perry’s forthcoming book, Under God? Religious Faith and
Liberal Democracy, argues that political reliance on religious
faith violates neither the Constitution’s establishment clause
nor the morality of liberal democracy. The book also addresses three
controversial issues at the center of American public life: school
vouchers, same-sex marriage and abortion.
“The issues that are of the greatest interest and concern
to me—the relation between law and religion and to human rights
studies—are subjects that Emory’s law school and the
University as a whole are tangibly committed to pursuing,”
Perry said of his appointment. “I am especially eager to work
with the students who come to Emory in part because of its institutional
commitment to these ideas.”
Perry will become the law school’s second Woodruff professor,
the highest honor Emory can bestow on a faculty member. The school’s
other Woodruff professor is comparative and international legal
scholar Harold Berman, who came to Emory in 1985 after a distinguished
career at Harvard.