Ask Not What Your Charity Can Do for You: Robertson v. Princeton Provides Liberal-Democratic Insights into the Dilemma of Cy Pres Reform

This Article centers on a long-standing problem in the law of public charity: how to ameliorate the force of restrictions imposed by donors on large gifts in the face of societal change. This Article explores the challenge of defining a substantive standard that acknowledges changes in social efficacy and draws upon John Rawls’s distinction between the “right” and the “good” to provide a framework to locate charitable mission, what the Author claims are private views of the public good, within liberal democracy. By way of illustration, this Article also examines the legal dispute between the Robertson family and Princeton University regarding a restricted gift given by the Robertsons in 1961.