Degree citation

DEAN JILL REICH: President Hansen, I am honored to present Stephen Lisle Carter.

Scholar, teacher, social critic, novelist, Stephen L. Carter has devoted his career to addressing some of the most vexing, complicated, and incendiary questions in our culture and political life.

A third-generation lawyer, Stephen L. Carter understood from childhood the value of family and education. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a law degree from Yale Law School. After clerking for U.S. Appeals Court Judge Spottsford W. Robinson III and for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Stephen L. Carter returned to Yale to teach law.

The scope of Professor Carter’s ideas is profoundly interdisciplinary, encompassing law, philosophy, theology, and history. In several highly regarded works of nonfiction, he explores the intersection of law and political life with religion and ethics. He is particularly interested in what he sees as a growing divide between religion and politics, arguing that there is a place in our national political discourse for the voices of persons whose religious convictions may provide insight and leadership as we make decisions that affect our society.

In addition to his analysis of the role of religion in American public life, Professor Carter has also written extensively on ethics. In Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy, Professor Carter suggests that on many levels our culture has become uncivil and cynical, that we have abandoned our trust in individuals and institutions, and that we have lost our commitment to fulfilling our obligations to one another. In his book, Integrity, he argues that our society can only thrive in a climate of mutual respect where we can be true to ourselves and to our beliefs.

For his contributions to a national dialogue on the state of our society and its future, for his thoughtful and original commentary on American culture, and for the courage of his convictions, I present Stephen Lisle Carter for the degree, Doctor of Laws.

PRESIDENT ELAINE HANSEN: Stephen Carter, we honor you as one of the nation’s most celebrated authorities on religious freedom. You are helping us shape the national debate on issues ranging from the role of religion in American politics to the impact of integrity and civility upon our daily lives. A teacher of constitutional law, contracts, intellectual property, law and religion, legal ethics, and law and science, you also use your talents to critical acclaim as a novelist and nonfiction writer on subjects ranging from affirmative action to the judicial confirmation process. Because you live what you teach about civil discourse, your voice is listened to, and you are honored across the political spectrum.

Therefore, by the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees, I hereby confer upon you the Degree of Doctor of Laws, with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities which here and everywhere pertain to this degree.