Miller Center

Derek Webb

Political Science, University of Notre Dame

Paving the Rights Infrastructure: Civic Education in the Presidencies of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt

Webb photo

Derek Webb is Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University

Webb joined the Constitutional Law Center as a fellow in 2012.  He works in the fields of constitutional law, statutory interpretation, American political theory, and legal history.  His publications include articles in Law and History Review, the American Journal of Legal History, and the South Carolina Law Review, as well as a co-authored book about Anti-Federalists in New York.  Derek is the winner of the Warren E. Burger Prize from the American Inns of Court and the William B. Spong Moot Court Tournament at William and Mary Law School.  After receiving his B.A. in philosophy from Yale University, he earned a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Notre Dame and a J.D. from Georgetown University.  He has held research and teaching fellowships at the University of Virginia and Princeton University and summer clerkships in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.  In 2014 and 2015, Derek was a Supreme Court Fellowship in the Office of the Counselor to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.

Through a comparative study of civic education in the presidencies of Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, Webb extended and challenged the role of "liberal virtues" in American politics. In his dissertation, Webb extended the thesis that liberalism requires a range of civic virtues. Webb showed how different kinds of rights have required fundamentally different kinds of citizen virtue for their support. Challenging the thesis that liberalism embodies a comprehensive and self-sustaining conception of the good life, Webb showed how liberal ends have occasionally been achieved through reliance upon the moral ideals of complementary yet distinct non-liberal traditions.

Fellowship year: 2007

Mentor: William Galston, The Brookings Institution

Selected Recent Publications

Fitting Together Uneven Planks: The Constitution and the Spirit of Compromise, Constitution Daily, February 25, 2013.

Doubting a Little of One's Infallibility: The Real Miracle at Philadelphia, Constitution Daily, January 18, 2013.

The "Spirit of Amity": The Constitution's Cover Letter and Civic Friendship, Constitution Daily, December 13, 2012.

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