The Rights of Nature: Theory, Law, and Emerging Jurisprudence
Created on August 13, 2021
Over three dozen municipal and tribal governments in the United States have now adopted local laws which recognize civil rights-type protections for ecosystems. These rights-based laws are widely seen as the next emerging frontier of environmental law in the U.S. and abroad.
This course will explore the indigenous origins of "rights of nature" laws, trace the emergence of that legal theory in Western law in the 1970s, focus on case studies including the adoption and litigation of the "Lake Erie Bill of Rights" in 2019 and the lawsuit brought to enforce the Orange County, Florida rights of nature law in 2021, provide a brief overview of international "rights of nature" jurisprudence, and conclude with a panel discussion on issues facing practitioners in this area.
This course will benefit environmental attorneys as well as those practicing in municipal and constitutional law.
- Identify the origins and underpinnings of municipal "rights of nature" laws
- Review U.S. jurisprudence around efforts by ecosystems to intervene in existing litigation and to independently enforce ecosystem rights
- Discuss international "rights of nature" lawmaking and jurisprudence in Ecuador, India, Colombia, and Bangladesh
- Recognize challenges and obstacles to drafting and enforcing "rights of nature" laws in the U.S.
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