February 28, 2024

J. Joel AliceaThe Saint John Paul II Guild of Catholic Lawyers, a student-led organization that promotes justice in the law and advances the intrinsic value of the human person through events at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law (Catholic Law), sponsored its annual Mirror of Justice lecture on Monday, February 26, in the Walter A. Slowinski Courtroom. This year’s lecture—part of the Guild’s longstanding series which recognizes legal scholars and encourages them to advance through law the pursuit of peace with justice—was delivered by Catholic Law professor J. Joel Alicea, Co-Director of the Project on Constitutional Originalism and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

The event opened with an invocation offered by the Rev. Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P., University Chaplain and Vice President of Ministry and Mission. After the opening prayer, Catholic Law Chief of Staff Katherine Gamelin Crowley, Associate Dean for Administration, took the stage, extending a welcome to all attendees and introducing the afternoon’s speaker on behalf of Catholic Law dean Stephen Payne. She then yielded the floor to Alicea, who began his lecture, entitled “Models and Mirrors in Constitutional Theory.”

Alicea’s lecture focused on the Marian epithet “Mirror of Justice” as found in the Catholic prayer of petition known both as the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary and as the Litany of Loreto. He noted that Mary, in her complete dedication to the Lord Jesus, serves as a model of Christian discipleship, and it is because she has modeled herself on her Son that she, in her purity, is a mirror of His justice. Alicea drew an analogy to constitutional theory: just as we need Mary as a model of Christian discipleship to distinguish good from poor discipleship, we need a sound moral framework to distinguish good from poor moral justifications for a constitutional theory.

Award presentation to J. Joel AliceaL to R: AJ Abate, Gerald Sharpe, J. Joel Alicea, and Emily Johnson

Following his lecture, Alicea opened the floor for questions from the audience. After answering a few questions, he was then presented with the Mirror of Justice Award by the Guild’s president Emily Johnson (3L), secretary AJ Abate (3L), and faith formation chair Gerald Sharpe (2L). Attendees then filed into the Louise H. Keelty and James Keelty, Jr. Atrium for a reception.

Alicea's lecture is available for viewing below.