Bridging Constitutional Dignity and Environmental Rights Jurisprudence

Journal of Human Rights and the Environment, v. 7, no. 2 (2016)

Widener University Delaware Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 16-09

24 Pages Posted: 2 May 2016 Last revised: 15 Dec 2016

See all articles by Erin Daly

Erin Daly

Widener University Delaware Law School

James May

Widener University Delaware Law School

Date Written: May 2, 2016

Abstract

Rights to human dignity and to environmental quality have evolved co-incidentally, if independently, as drivers in modern constitutionalism. Most constitutions recognize a right to a quality environment, a right to human dignity, or both. Both rights are relatively recent inventions, and few — if any — modern constitutions are adopted or amended without attention to both of these features. Moreover, they share commonalities, inter alia, related to identifying causes of action, appropriate parties, and the scope of judicial review and remedies. And both involve complex legal, philosophical, and political dimensions.

Notwithstanding such positive correlations, courts from around the globe have been considerably more inclined to engage constitutionalized rights to human dignity than constitutionalized rights to a quality environment. Simply, jurists, advocates and scholars have tended to overlook or ignore threads entwining human dignity and environmental rights jurisprudence. This article aims to tie these loose ends.

After sampling both dignity and environmental rights jurisprudence and then examining the association between the two, this article concludes that environmental and dignity rights jurisprudence can correspond in more mutually complementary ways. First, dignity can play a more prominent place in judicial treatment of environmental rights. Second, dignity rights jurisprudence can do more to engage the ways in which environmental degradation diminishes human dignity. As the two areas develop in tandem, jurisprudential outcomes in each area stand to benefit.

Keywords: dignity, environment, dignity rights, environmental rights, comparative constitutionalism, jurisprudence

JEL Classification: K32, K3

Suggested Citation

Daly, Erin and May, James, Bridging Constitutional Dignity and Environmental Rights Jurisprudence (May 2, 2016). Journal of Human Rights and the Environment, v. 7, no. 2 (2016); Widener University Delaware Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 16-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2773781

Erin Daly (Contact Author)

Widener University Delaware Law School ( email )

4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19803-0406
United States
302-477-2143 (Phone)
304-477-2257 (Fax)

James May

Widener University Delaware Law School ( email )

4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19803-0406
United States

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