BYU Law Professor David Moore to Serve as 2021 John T. Copenhaver Jr. Chair at West Virginia University

October 7, 2021

David Moore, BYU Law’s Sterling and Eleanor Colton Endowed Chair in Law and an associate director for the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, has been selected to serve as the 2021 John T. Copenhaver Jr. Chair at West Virginia University (WVU). The Copenhaver Chair, a collaboration between the College of Law and the School of Public Health, was established to help build connections between health and law and the professionals who work in both fields.

As the Copenhaver Chair, Moore will spend two weeks during the fall semester at WVU. He will present two public lectures, “Interpreting Human Rights” and “The International Human Right to Health,” and teach a course titled “Health & International Human Rights,” which will explore the role of law in advancing global health.

Moore teaches and writes on foreign relations law, including the role that international law plays in the US legal system. Between 2017 and 2019, he served, variously, as the Acting Deputy Administrator and General Counsel of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the federal government’s lead agency for international development and humanitarian assistance. In 2020, he was elected to a brief term on the United Nations Human Rights Committee, a body of independent experts that oversees member states’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. He currently serves on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Moscow Mechanism.

In “Health & International Human Rights,” Moore will focus on health as a human right as seen through the lens of international law, US foreign relations law, and comparative law. “The course will cover different bodies of law that have an international component and where the right to health might be an issue,” says Moore. “I hope to broaden students’ perspectives on when the right to health might come up, what the major institutions involved are, and various approaches they might take to analyze right to health issues.”

According to Moore, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to the importance of the right to health and has highlighted the global response to health issues. “Much of what we have been focusing on is case numbers and vaccinations,” Moore says, “but this just scratches the surface. There have been ripple effects, including a huge mental health impact. The pandemic has also erased some of the progress that has been made in the diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. These are all real health consequences of the coronavirus.”

At USAID, Moore dealt with legal issues as well as the policy and operational side of public health. “Public health work is an important part of international development,” he says. He welcomes the opportunity to teach WVU students about the connection between law and health and various ways to promote the right to health through the law.

The Copenhaver Chair is named for John T Copenhaver Jr., a senior status federal judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia and native of West Virginia. Judge Copenhaver earned a bachelor of arts degree and a juris doctorate from WVU. He clerked for Judge Ben Moore on the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia from 1950–1951 and worked in private practice and as a bankruptcy mediator for the Southern District of West Virginia from 1951–1973. Copenhaver has also served as an adjunct professor for WVU Law.