Hope, Dignity, and the Limits of Democracy
10 Ne. U. L. Rev. 654 (2018)
37 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2018
Date Written: 2018
Dignity, fairness, and human rights are values that serve to promote justice; values that Professor Hope Lewis fully and passionately embraced. These ideals, respected and promoted in international and domestic spheres alike, are interdependent and require coordinated deployment in order to render justice for the marginable a reality. Hope realized that the attainment of justice, a goal that guided her life and work, requires a multidimensional approach that recognizes the indivisibility and interdependence of human rights, as only such a complex approach effectuates a meaningful anti-subordination strategy. Multidimensionality requires the reconceptualization of the linear approach to law that easily allows the marginalization and invisibility of those who most need to emerge from the shadows of the law. Hope’s mission was to clear the path of legal obstacles and obfuscations for the marginable.
Hope Lewis dedicated her life to this justice project. This essay, written to celebrate her life and legacy, will first focus on Professor Lewis’s dream. Next, the piece focuses on dignity as a site in which to instantiate and promote Professor Lewis’s vision. In this segment, I will travel the path of the symposium International Law, Local Justice: Human Rights Transformed to address both the international and United States’ positions on dignity and discuss a contentious contemporary concern—LGBT rights— that clearly exposes the importance of accepting an indivisibility framework. In so doing, the essay unveils the tension between dignitarian rights—those rights that human beings are entitled to simply because of their humanity—and democracy, another interest of high value both domestically and internationally. The piece closes by suggesting a paradigm that reflects Hope’s vision of justice—the indivisibility and interdependence conceptualization of rights—and that enables protection of and respect for dignitarian rights.
Keywords: Hope Lewis, human rights, dignity, democracy, inequality, multidimensionality, anti-subordination
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