- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 8, 2007

RICHMOND — Prominent jurists from the United States and Britain will observe the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown with a series of panel discussions and speeches examining “the rule of law.”

The conference begins Wednesday at the University of Richmond School of Law and winds up Saturday with an excursion to Jamestown for a tour and the dedication of a commemorative plaque.

“At a time when developing nations and emerging democracies around the world are examining the Western experiment in democracy, it is appropriate to re-examine our own experience in the United States begun 400 years ago at the first permanent English settlement in the new world at Jamestown,” said Virginia Supreme Court Justice Donald W. Lemons, co-chairman of the Rule of Law Conference.

Among the participants are U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and his British counterpart, the lord chief justice of England and Wales, Lord Phillips.

Chief Justice Roberts will be the keynote speaker at Friday night’s banquet and will join Lord Chief Justice Phillips and retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor for the plaque ceremony Saturday. Lord Chief Justice Phillips and Justice Stephen G. Breyer are among the panelists for Wednesday’s opening event, a discussion of “Global Issues and the Rule of Law.”

Organizers of the conference said it will examine how the rule of law has shaped the foundation of democracy, including religious freedom, due process, free speech and international dispute resolution.

Justice Lemons defined the rule of law as “the expression of history, tradition, culture and shared values in court decisions, legislative enactments and executive declarations.”

Said Justice Lemons: “We are often reminded that ‘we are a nation of laws, not men or women,’ and that ‘no one is above the law.’ It is the guiding hand of the rule of law that animates and sustains our democracy.”

Roberta Oster Sachs, associate dean for external relations at the University of Richmond, said the conference is expected to attract students, judges, legal scholars and political leaders.

Among the highlights will be a speech Thursday morning by Xu Wenli, a founder of the Chinese Democracy Party and a senior fellow at Brown University.

Mr. Xu, one of China’s most prominent political dissidents, spent 16 years in a Chinese prison for his pro-democracy activism before moving to the U.S. in 2002. He will speak about “Human Rights in China and the Rule of Law.”

Thursday’s agenda also includes panel discussions or speeches on the rule of law and religious freedom, displacement of American Indians, the black American experience, international business, and international dispute resolution and cultural differences.

Meetings on Friday are by invitation only.

After the plaque given by the four English Inns of Court is dedicated Saturday, participants will attend a reception and guided tours of Jamestown Island and Archaearium.

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