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Mary Ann Glendon

  • Enduring Lessons

    July 23, 2020

    Retiring Professors Robert Clark, Mary Ann Glendon Laurence Tribe and Mark Tushnet are celebrated by former students.

  • Embracing the Whole World through the Study and Teaching of Law

    July 21, 2020

    Mary Ann Glendon communicated an ideal that as students of the law, we were participants in a vast, complex and immensely important human enterprise. [Yet] She never lost sight, with clear-eyed realism, of law as a sociological fact—subject to interests and powers—and of the fragility and flaws of every human undertaking.

  • Mary Ann Glendon delivers the Scalia Lecture.

    Who needs foreign law?

    March 4, 2020

    The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ’60 believed America had much to learn from laws adopted by nations abroad, according to Harvard Law School Professor Mary Ann Glendon. In an address titled “Who Needs Foreign Law?,” Glendon, the Learned Hand Professor of Law, gave a clear, if somewhat surprising, answer: Scalia did.

  • 5 Questions About the Commission on Unalienable Rights

    October 31, 2019

    Last week marked the first official meeting of the U.S. State Department’s new Commission on Unalienable Rights. The meeting was held in a State Department auditorium in front of a crowd of a few dozen U.S. officials and nongovernmental organization (NGO) representatives. The commission’s stated purpose is to provide “fresh thinking about human rights discourse,” and in an op-ed on the commission’s creation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped that it would “generate a serious debate about human rights.” Unfortunately, so far, the commission has created more questions than answers, as well as cause for alarm when it comes to protecting the rights of vulnerable communities...The announced chair, Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon, is an anti-abortion advocate, and a previously considered chairman is well known for his anti-LGBTQ views...Pompeo called the commission’s work “urgent,” and Glendon has cited China’s attempts to undermine the global consensus on human rights as a key example of its necessity. She is right to be concerned.

  • Academia’s Holy Warriors

    September 13, 2019

    IIt was a Saturday night in May 2018 in Fox Hill, N.Y., and the Notre Dame political-science professor Patrick Deneen was talking about his garden. The occasion was a conference called “Beyond Liberalism,” organized around Deneen’s unlikely bestseller, Why Liberalism Failed (Yale University Press, 2018). The setting was the mess hall of a “Bruderhof” intentional community, patterned on those established by Christian pacifists in the wake of World War I. ... In the year and a half since the conference, other writers who have staked out public positions on the nonliberal right include the Harvard law professor Adrian Vermeule, the First Things editor R.R. Reno, the former Washington Examiner managing editor Helen Andrews, and the University of Dallas assistant professor of political science — and deputy editor of the journal American Affairs — Gladden Pappin. One might add Mary Ann Glendon, the Harvard law professor and former ambassador to the Vatican, who in July was named the head of President Trump’s Commission on Unalienable Rights. (The commission includes professors from Stanford, the University of South Carolina, the University of California at Irvine, and Notre Dame.)

  • Pompeo Decries Proliferation of ‘Human Rights’ Claims in Speech

    September 8, 2019

    Secretary of State Michael Pompeo criticized what he called the dilution of core human rights for the sake of political “pet causes,” in a speech in his home state of Kansas that will appeal to conservative voters whose support he’ll need if he decides to run for the Senate in 2020. ... But they have suggested that in a government with limited resources, officials ought to spend less time on issues such as biodiversity or clean water and more on core rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. He’s also established a commission to study the issue that’s being led by Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard University professor who has previously argued that advocates of same-sex marriage are seeking “special preferences” accorded to married men and women.

  • How Mike Pompeo’s new commission on ‘unalienable rights’ butchers history

    August 20, 2019

    In July, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a new Commission on Unalienable Rights. This new commission will distinguish between the “unalienable rights” of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and “ad hoc rights” added after the Cold War. By making this distinction, based upon a deeply conservative definition of human rights, however, Pompeo’s commission will actually threaten sexual equality, LGBTQ rights and reproductive health globally. Pompeo’s definition of “unalienable rights” draws on the ideas of a legal scholar who has staked her career on making a stark distinction between human rights and women’s rights. Mary Ann Glendon is a Harvard Law School professor, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican and outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage and abortion. Pompeo has not just drawn on Glendon’s ideas but also appointed her as the head of the new commission. According to Glendon, “Human rights are women’s rights. … But it is not the case that whatever a particular nation state decides to call a woman’s ‘right’ is necessarily a universal human right.”

  • The Lawfare Podcast: Mary Ann Glendon on Unalienable Rights

    August 5, 2019

    Mary Ann Glendon is the chair of the Commission on Unalienable Rights, announced by Secretary Pompeo on July 8, 2019, to great controversy. The commission was charged with examining the bases of human rights claims and the extent to which they are or are not rooted in the American rights tradition. The response of the human rights community was swift and fierce, with a lot of skepticism, a lot of anger, and a lot of criticism. Mary Ann Glendon, the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, sat down with Jack Goldsmith to discuss the commission, what it is and isn't looking at, and why examining the root bases of human rights claims is a worthwhile endeavor for a State Department commission.

  • Members of new Pompeo task force have previously praised human-rights abusers

    July 16, 2019

    The mission of a new panel created to advise the State Department on the definition of human rights and its role in American diplomacy may stand in conflict with what some of its members have said in the past...While Pompeo has insisted that the goal is to prevent authoritarian regimes from redefining human rights on their own terms, Mary Ann Glendon — the incoming chair, a Harvard Law professor and a former U.S. ambassador — recently advocated an approach of “flexible universalism,” in which she advises human rights activists to give more weight to local governments’ own traditions when appealing to them on the grounds of human rights.

  • Trump’s Ominous Attempt to Redefine Human Rights

    July 16, 2019

    For the Trump administration to establish a “Commission on Unalienable Rights” to examine the meaning of human rights, as it did this month, is a little like Saudi Arabia forming a commission on multiparty democracy or North Korea a commission on how to end famine. It would be hilarious if it weren’t so ominous...For Pompeo, religious rights are plainly human rights; as to the rest, it’s unclear. As head of the commission, he has appointed Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard professor known as a zealous opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage. Other political opinions are represented, but the body is predominantly conservative and religious.

  • Human rights activists slam Mike Pompeo’s newly unveiled Commission on Unalienable Rights

    July 16, 2019

    Human rights group have lashed out at a new panel formed by the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which aims to reevaluate the role of the the State Department in dealing with human rights issues...The appointment of Pompeo’s former mentor, Mary Ann Glendon, to head the board has also alarmed human rights activists. A staunch conservative and Catholic activist, Glendon is the former ambassador to the Holy See (the Vatican) under former President George W. Bush. A Harvard law professor who has written extensively against abortion rights, Glendon has supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. She’s also known for her opposition to the use of condoms in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS. In 2018, she received an award — the Evangelium Vitae Medal from the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture — for her lifetime work as one of the “heroes of the pro-life movement.”

  • Mike Pompeo’s new panel on human rights is unnecessary and maybe dangerous

    July 16, 2019

    Champions of human rights around the world are reacting with understandable suspicion to Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo’s announcement that he is creating a “Commission on Unalienable Rights” that will “ground our discussion of human rights in America’s founding principles.” Pompeo said the commission — which will be headed by Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon, who served as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican during the George W. Bush administration — wouldn’t opine on policy.

  • Pompeo Creates Commission on Human Rights

    July 9, 2019

    The State Department established a new group to examine and define human rights, drawing skepticism from critics who worried the Trump administration was furthering its conservative political agenda. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday the Commission on Unalienable Rights will conduct “an informed review of the role of human rights in American foreign policy” and provide him with “advice on human rights grounded in our nation’s founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”...The new commission will be headed by human rights scholar Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School, a former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. Ms. Glendon said the commission will begin its work at a time when “basic human rights are being misunderstood by many, manipulated by many, and ignored by the world’s worst human rights violators.”

  • Trump administration reviews human rights’ role in US policy

    July 9, 2019

    The Trump administration said Monday that it will review the role of human rights in American foreign policy, appointing a commission expected to elevate concerns about religious freedom and abortion. Human rights groups accused the administration of politicizing foreign policy in a way that could undermine protections for marginalized populations, including the gay, lesbian and transgender community. Democratic senators have raised concerns about the panel’s intent and composition, fearing it would consist of members who “hold views hostile to women’s rights” and blow away existing standards and definitions...The commission will be chaired by Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon, a former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. A conservative scholar and author, Glendon turned down an honor from Notre Dame the year President Barack Obama gave a commencement address there, protesting the school’s decision to recognize him in spite of his support for abortion rights...Glendon, who joined Pompeo at the State Department for the announcement, said she was honored to do the job at a time when “basic human rights are being misunderstood by many, manipulated by many and ignored by the world’s worst human rights violators.”

  • State Department launches panel focused on human rights and natural law

    July 9, 2019

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced the creation of an advisory commission on human rights that has engendered controversy since it was proposed. Pompeo said the Commission on Unalienable Rights “will provide the intellectual grist of what I hope will be one of the most profound re-examinations of inalienable rights in the world since the 1948 Universal Declaration.” The panel will be headed by Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard Law School professor who wrote a book about the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pompeo was Glendon’s research assistant when he studied law at Harvard. Glendon is also a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. Besides her academic research, Glendon is known for her antiabortion views. At the 1995 U.N. World Conference on Women in Beijing, she fought successfully to keep abortion from being listed as a human right.

  • Would the UN’s human rights milestone of 1948 even be possible today?

    December 20, 2018

    Last month, we marked the centennial of the end of the Great War. Last week, we marked the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). In the intervening 30 years, between 1918 and 1948, human-rights violations of unimaginable scale took place, with the rise of totalitarianism and the genocidal brutality of the Second World War, in both the Pacific and European theatres, and above all in the Shoah. That the UN could pass the UDHR just a few years after WWII ended is one of the most remarkable achievements of statecraft in history. ... Later in life, I would come to know and work with Mary Ann Glendon, the Harvard Law School professor who literally wrote the book on how the UDHR came to be, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • Founding members honored at Women Affirming Life breakfast

    December 14, 2018

    Four generations of women, some accompanied by their husbands and children, gathered at Four Points by Sheraton on Dec. 8 for the annual Women Affirming Life Mass and Breakfast. The theme for this year's Mass was "Mary in Advent: Model for All Women Affirming Life." The celebrant was Father David Pignato, director of human formation at St. John's Seminary. ... Frances Hogan introduced the keynote speaker, Professor Mary Ann Glendon. Both Hogan and Glendon are founding members of Women Affirming Life. ...The topic of Glendon's keynote was "The Pro-Life Movement: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow." She spoke of Women Affirming Life's inception in 1989 as a response to a "relentless" campaign to portray the pro-life movement as anti-women. "A key part of that idea was to show the true face of the pro-life movement," Glendon said, noting that it "has always been predominantly composed of women."

  • New skepticism targets right to religious freedom, expert says

    November 19, 2018

    Former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Mary Ann Glendon believes the entire human rights movement has fallen victim to a new form of skepticism that risks bringing it to collapse, with religious freedom being in the most precarious position. Currently a law professor at Harvard University, Glendon told Crux in an interview that “a new skepticism” is developing in society which, differently from the deep-rooted suspicion of the modern age towards most things, is specifically targeting the human rights movement. “Human rights activists are worried that the cause they gave their life to is falling apart. Human rights specialists are writing books about the end-times of human rights, so where does that come from?” she asked.