Online CLE – Aquinas and King: A Discourse on Civil Disobedience


  • Ohio CLE: 6.0 general
  • PACLE: 4.0 substantive, 2.0 ethics
  • WV CLE: 7.8 attendance, 2.0 legal ethics


  • Ohio CLE: 6.0 general
  • PACLE: 4.0 substantive, 2.0 ethics
  • WV CLE: 7.8 attendance, 2.0 legal ethics


St. Thomas has an answer for just about everything, including civil disobedience. During the tumult of the 1960s, Martin Luther King, Jr. espoused a philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience to challenge the inequalities of his day. King’s philosophies are rooted in the Thomist theory that human law is unjust if it conflicts with a higher law and that resistance to unjust human law should be non-violent in design. This intellectually stimulating seminar will explore the parallels between Thomas’ time-tested teachings and King’s adherence to such teachings throughout the civil rights movement.

Every lawyer needs to be reminded that not all human enactments, laws and regulations are inherently lawful, moral or good by design. In both King and Aquinas, the attorney is reminded of the principle of justice and injustice in law and a theory of civil disobedience that is fully consistent with our long-standing jurisprudence. This type of inquiry has never been more relevant in the current wave of antisemitism. Even more strikingly, it is Martin Luther King, Jr. who credits the legal theory of Thomas Aquinas for the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement during his lifetime.

A summary of course coverage includes:

  • The Nature of Law According to St. Thomas Aquinas
  • The Nature of Law According to Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Moral, Ethical and Religious Foundations of Common Law
  • Defining Civil Disobedience
  • Civil Disobedience and the Christian Conscience
  • The Principle of Non-Recognition
  • The Compatibility of Aquinas and King


Dr. Charles P. Nemeth

Dr. Charles P. Nemeth has spent much of his professional life in the study and practice of law and justice.  He is a recognized expert on professional ethics and the justice system, private-sector justice and private security systems. Before his appointment at Franciscan, he was Chair and Professor of Security, Fire and Emergency Management and Director of the Center of Private Security and Safety at John Jay College in New York City.  He is a prolific writer, having published numerous texts and articles on law and justice throughout his impressive career. His text, Private Security and the Law 4th- (Elsevier, 2012) is considered the foremost treatise on the subject matter. A 5th edition has been published by Taylor/Francis, 2018.  His private security and criminal justice expertise is further buttressed by: Private Security and Investigative Process 4th edition (CRC Press, 2019); Private Security:  Principles and Practice, 2nd (CRC Press, 2022); Criminal Law 3rdd (CRC Press, 2022) and Law and Evidence 3rd (Taylor Francis, 2022). In the area of Homeland Security, he has published Introduction to Homeland Security: Practices and Principles 4th edition (CRC Press, 2010, 2014, 2017, 2021).

He has also authored a series of philosophical works on Thomas Aquinas including Aquinas on Crime (St. Augustine’s Press, 2010); Aquinas in the Courtroom (Praeger/Greenwood Press, 2001); Aquinas and King: A Discourse on Civil Disobedience (Carolina Academic Press, 2011) and Cicero and Aquinas: A Comparative Study of Nature and the Natural Law (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018). Most recently he has completed two manuscripts:  Natural Law and the U.S Supreme Court since Roe v. Wade (Anthem Press, 2020) and Happiness in a Complex World: Rules from Aristotle and Aquinas (Anthem Press, 2020 and Sophia Institute Press, 2022). He has also served as Chief Editor to a peer reviewed journal- The Homeland Security Review since 2005 and currently serves as Chief Editor for the Law, Ethics and Jurisprudence series to be published by Anthem Press. Presently he is the Chief Editor for a peer-reviewed Natural Law and Justice journal and is the founder and Director of Franciscan University’s Center for Criminal Justice, Law and Ethics.  He has been an educator for more than 40 years. He holds memberships in the New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania Bars. Dr. Nemeth was previously a Chair at the State University of New York at Brockport and California University of PA- one of Pennsylvania’s 14 State Universities.  He is a much-sought-after legal consultant for security companies and a recognized scholar on issues involving law, professional ethics and morality and the impact of privatization on public justice models.

Dr. Nemeth resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with his spouse, Jean Marie, together for 50 years and blessed with seven children all of whom are accomplished personally and professionally.

*All courses are approved for continuing legal education by state authorizing bodies and are not courses for academic credit.