Jewish & Catholic Approaches to Property & Social Justice

Mar 20, 2014
Jenner & Block, 45th Floor
353 N Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60654
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Eduardo PeñalverCornell Law School

Joseph William SingerHarvard Law School


Eduardo Peñalver (University of Chicago Law School)
Joseph William Singer (Harvard Law School)


1.5 hours Ethics/Professionalism CLE credit CA, IL and NY.


5:00 PM: Registration and Refreshments
5:15 PM: Welcoming Remarks by Craig Martin (Partner, Jenner & Block)
5:20 PM: Introduction by the Hon. Thomas More Donnelly (Associate Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County)
5:25 PM: Presentation by Eduardo Peñalver
 (University of Chicago Law School)
5:45 PM: Presentation by Joseph William Singer
 (Harvard Law School)
6:05: Panel Discussion
6:25 PM: Q&A
6:55 PM: Wine and Cheese Reception

Both Jewish and Catholic traditions teach that each human being is obliged to attend to the needs of the vulnerable and use property for the common good. The obligation to the vulnerable attaches to each person; it even is imposed on the poor oddly enough who are obligated to give something to others (even if what they do is exchange with each other) because the experience of giving to help others is part of what is crucial to human life and something the poor should not be deprived of. The traditional language also understands this to be a commandment from God, which really means part of the structure of the world.

Additionally, both rights and obligations flow from possessing property according to both Catholic and Jewish social justice teaching. The obligation to provide for the poor also forms a core social obligation attaching to the possession of property. From this obligation may arise certain entitlements–these entitlements are a subject of much controversy in our country today. However, there can be no dispute that both religious traditions espouse the subordination of private property to the common good. This discussion will examine the legal, religious, and philosophical grounding for this common belief and consider the legal and political implications that follow.

Hosted by Jenner & Block.
Cosponsored by The Advocates Society, The Catholic Lawyers Guild, The Decalogue Society of Lawyers, The Jewish Judges Association of Illinois, and the National Center for the Laity

Eduardo M. Peñalver is the Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law at Cornell Law School. He previously served as the John P. Wilson Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. He holds a BA from Cornell University and a JD from Yale Law School. Between college and law school, he studied philosophy and theology as a Rhodes Scholar at Oriel College, Oxford. Dean Peñalver clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and at the Supreme Court for Justice John Paul Stevens. His scholarship focuses on property and land use, as well as law and religion. His work also explores the way in which the law mediates the interests of individuals and communities. Peñalver’s books include Property Outlaws (2010, co-authored with Sonia Katyal), which explores the vital role of disobedience within the evolution of property law, and most recently, An Introduction to Property Theory (2011, co-authored with Gregory Alexander).

Joseph William Singer is the Bussey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He holds a BA from Williams College, an AM in political science from Harvard, and a JD from Harvard Law School. He teaches and writes about property law, conflict of laws, and federal Indian law. He also writes about legal theory with an emphasis on moral and political philosophy. Singer has published more than 60 law review articles, and is one of the executive editors of the 2012 edition of Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law. Additionally he has written a casebook and a treatise on property law, as well as two theoretical books on property called Entitlement: The Paradoxes of Property andThe Edges of the Field: Lessons on the Obligations of Ownership.