The Catholic University of America

William Gabriel Gregory Wagner

Since becoming a member of the faculty at the Columbus School of Law in 1984, Professor Wagner has developed as a scholar and a teacher in the areas of constitutional law; commercial law; jurisprudence; law and Christian ethics; and law and literature. He founded and has directed an institute, the Center for Law, Philosophy and Culture, currently incorporated as an independent not-for-profit foundation under the law of the State of Maryland, coordinating internationally acclaimed interdisciplinary scholarship, symposia, colloquia, public lectures and faculty seminars, on such topics, as free expression in comparative constitutional perspective; the origins of judicial review in English legal history; conscientious exemption for religious objectors in medicine; legal ethics and problems of conflicting obligation; John Rawls’s ‘Idea of Public Reason’; and themes of exceptionalism and equity in American and British literature. 

Professor Wagner designed and implemented a major international conference on the natural law underpinnings of civil law, commissioned by Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Sacred Doctrine of the Faith, in 2008. Professor Wagner founded and currently edits an independent scholarly journal in jurisprudence, the Journal of Law, Philosophy and Culture, which publishes the work of leading jurisprudents, legal historians, and Christian and other ethicists, in the United States and Great Britain. He serves on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Jurisprudence and the American Journal of Comparative Law. 
While on the tenure track, Professor Wagner simultaneously earned a doctorate in Roman Catholic moral theology with a specialization in theories of justice and natural law theory. He has been a visiting research scholar at the University of Heidelberg (Max Planck Institute for Comparative and Public International Law), the University of Cambridge (Clare Hall and the Cambridge Forum for Legal & Political Philosophy) and the University of Bonn (the faculty of Law and Political Science and Center for Religion and Society).     



Research and Writing


The Contractual Reallocation of Procreative Resources and Parental Rights: The Natural Endowment Critique. (Dartmouth Press 1995).

Book Chapters
Devolving American Understandings of Tolerance, in Die TOLERANZ - (Anton Rauscher, S.J.ed. 2011) (in press) (vol. 21 in Duncker & Humblot series Soziale Orienterung).
Catholicism and Human Rights, in Oxford Encyclopedia of Human Rights (Oxford University Press 2009).

The Right to Accommodation: Should It Be Legislatively Recognized?, in Selective Conscientious Objection, Accommodating Conscience and Security, (Westview Press 1989).
Journal Articles
A Study in Law and Literature:  Themes of Exceptionalism and Equity in British and American Literature, 5 J.L. Phil. & Culture 87 (2010)
In Pursuit of a Common Morality in a Time of Globalization, 3 J. L. Philos. & Culture 7 (2009)
Unlocking Catholic Social Doctrine: Narrative is Key, 6 J. Cath. Soc. Thought (2009)
To the Age of Social Revolution: As Papal Rejoinder, “The Apocalypse is Not Now,” 53 Villanova L. Rev. 209 (2008).
John Rawls’s Proffer to Believers:  A Bargain Called, “The Idea of Public Reason,” 1 J.L. Phil. & Culture 13 (2007).
Law’s Quandary:  An Echo of the Infinite, A Glimpse of the Unfathomable,  55 Cath. U. Law Rev. 655 (2006).
The Stem Cell Debate (with Ursula Weide), 22 J. Contemp. Health Law & Policy 409  2006).
Universal Human Rights, The United Nations, and the Telos of Human Dignity, Ave Maria L. Rev.3 (2005): 1973

John Noonan on Marriage and the Family:  Continuity and Change in Doctrine,
1 U. St.Thomas L. Rev. 724 2003).

Balancing as Art: Justice White and the Separation of Powers. 52 Catholic Univ. L. Rev. 957 (2003)

Constitutional Values and the Ethics of Health Care: A Comparison of the United States and Germany.18  J. Contemp. Health law & Pol’y 619 (2002)
As Justice and Prudence Dictate: The Morality of America’s War Against Terrorism—A Response to James V. Schall, S.J. 51 Cath. Univ. Law Rev. 12 (2001)
The Pursuit of the Hunt, Interrupted: Changing Literary Image of Law. 49 Cath. Univ. L. Rev.945 (2000)
Death, Dying and Burial:  Approaches in Religious Law and Practice,  59 Jurist 1 (1999)

Christianity and the Civil Law: Secularity, Privacy, and the Status of Objective Moral Norms, 71 St. John's Law Rev. 71 (Winter 1997): 515

The Role of Basic Values in the Contemporary Constitutional Hermeneutics of Germany and the United States, 56 Heidelberg J. Int. Law 56 178  (1996)

Supremacy and Integrity: Member-State Law as a Limiting Principle in the United States and the European Union, 79 Soundings 349 (1996)

The American Experience of Federalism, and its Significance for Europe, 20 DAJV Newsletter 95 (1995)

Catholic Sponsorship of Legal Education: A Bibliography
, 78 Marq. L. Rev.507 (1995)
In Search of the Market's Moral Limits: Liberalism, Perfectionism, and 'The Bad Man' in  Christian Perspective, 11 J.L. &Relig. 535 (1994-95)

The Just and the Holy Are One: The Role of Eschatology in Harold Berman's Vision of Normative Jurisprudence,  42 Emory L.J. 1045 (1993)

The Contractual Reallocation of Procreative Resources and Parental Rights: The Natural Endowment Critique, Case West. Res. Law Rev. 41 (1990)

The Ethical and Legal Implications of Hired Maternity, 35 Am. J. Juris.187 (1990) The New Reproductive Technologies and the Law: A Roman Catholic Perspective, 4 J.   Contemp. Health Law & Pol’y  37 (1988)
The Relation of Autonomy and Academic Freedom to Government Support:  A Response to Kenneth Whitehead,  11 Proc. Fellowship Cath. Scholars 21 (1988)

Public Policy Recommendations in Reproductive Technologies, Marriage and the Church (Donald G. McCarthy ed. 1988)

Conclusion to Symposium on the Religious Foundations of Civil Rights Law. 5 J. Law & Relig. 225 (1987) (with others)

Reflections on the Symposium: An Ordered Inquiry into the Relation of Civil Rights Law and Religion. 5 J. Law & Relig. 5 (1987)

Review Essays and Book Reviews
Review Essay of  The Inner Experience of Law: A Jurisprudence of Subjectivity by David Granfield. 4 J. Contemp. Health L. & Pol’y 479 (1988)

Review of Law’s Empire by Ronald Dworkin 41 Rev. Metaphysics 136 (1987)

Review Essay, Ideals, Beliefs, Attitudes and the Law: Private Law Perspectives on a Public Law Problem by Guido Calabresi."  35 Cath. Univ. L. Rev. 335 (1985).
Review of Genetics and the Law II, by Aubrey Milunksy and George J. Annas (eds.) 51Linacre Q. 183 (1984)


In His Words ...

"The law settles past and present conflicts, in definitive, and plans for the future, in predictable, terms. And, yet, a capacity for the fair and the reasonable, more basic than the law itself, makes law possible, and the finality of law does not exhaust our thirst for truth."

– William Wagner



Office: 470 Law School
The Catholic University of America
3600 John McCormack Rd., NE
Washington, D.C. 20064

Phone: 202-319-6123



  • Jurisprudence: A History of the Idea of Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Jurisprudential Problems in Contemporary American Law


Philosophy, The Catholic University of America, 2002

Yale University, 1978   

The Catholic University of America, 1983

UCLA, 1975 


Areas of Expertise

  • Constitutional Law 
  • Commercial Law 
  • Jurisprudence 
  • Law and Christian Ethics 
  • Law and the Humanities


  • Coordination of numerous interdisciplinary projects, among legal scholars, philosophers, and theologians
  • Publication of studies in law, public policy, and religious values
  • Knowledge of the relation of law and the humanities
  • Research visits away at the University of Cambridge, University of Bonn, and University of Heidelberg (Fulbright)