9 Nw. U. J. Int'l Hum. Rts. 1 (2010-2011)

handle is hein.journals/jihr9 and id is 1 raw text is: Copyright 2010 by Northwestern University School of Law                  Volume 9, Number 1 (Fall 2010)
Northwestern Journal of International Human Rights
Should New Bills of Rights Address Emerging
International Human Rights Norms?
The Challenge of Defamation of Religion
Robert C. Blitt*
The decision to draft a bill of rights heralds a momentous event in any
country's history. In the latter half of the 20th century, crafting a document that addresses
the fundamental rights of individuals and groups and their relationship to the state has
typically involved a flurry of public consultations, negotiations, drafting, and rewrites.
Increasingly, however, such endeavors remain incomplete without some effort to
observe, understand, and account for comparative trends related to human rights on the
international level as well as in other states. Although writing about constitutions
specifically, A.E. Dick Howard's observations are equally relevant to standalone bills of
The international human rights revolution has had undeniable impact upon
comparative constitutionalism. It is hard to imagine drafters of a new
constitution going about their task unconcerned about human rights
standards ... For half a century, the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights has served as a model for constitution makers. Countless
* Associate Professor of Law, University of Tennessee College of Law. Member of the Massachusetts Bar.
LL.M 2003, J.D. and M.A. (International Relations) 2000, University of Toronto; B.A. 1994, McGill
University. An early draft of this article was presented in Canberra, Australia during a conference on
Cultural and Religious Freedom Under a Bill of Rights organized by the University of Adelaide's
Research Unit for the Study of Society, Law and Religion (RUSSLR) and Brigham Young University's
International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS). I am indebted to the organizers, especially
Brett Scharffs and Paul Babie, for the invitation to participate and also for facilitating a fascinating and eye-
opening visit to Australia. Thanks also to Rachael Kohn for providing the opportunity to discuss in more
depth some of the issues raised here during an interview for her radio broadcast, The Spirit of Things. A
transcript of the interview is available at Human Rights and Religion (The Spirit of Things, Oct. 18, 2009,
This work would not be possible without the tremendous support of the University of Tennessee College of
Law and the active encouragement of my faculty colleagues. I am also grateful to Joe King, Jennifer
Hendricks, and Erin Daly for their helpful insights into the state of U.S. defamation law, to Greg Stein for
his invaluable comments on an earlier draft, to Jenny Tang for her rapid editorial input, and to Anna Forgie
and the rest of the team at the Northwestern Journal ofInternational Human Rights for their professional
assistance getting this article to print. This paper is dedicated with love to my wife Stephanie, whose ability
to make time never ceases to amaze, and to our son and traveling companion Noah Leib.

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