Notre Dame Law School’s Program on Church, State & Society has announced the winners of its annual writing competition. The goal of the competition is to encourage scholarship related to the intersection of church, state, and society, and in particular how the law structures and governs that intersection.
First place went to Clare Chiodini, a recent graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, for her paper, “The Ministerial Exception’s Eligibility for Collateral Appeal.” She argues that a court’s denial of the ministerial exception at the motion to dismiss or summary judgment stage should be immediately appealable under the collateral order doctrine. She received a $3,000 cash prize.
Chiodini said she developed an interest in the topic after doing pro bono research to support religious parties who were litigating in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second and Tenth Circuits.
Second place was awarded to Athanasius Sirilla, a rising third-year student at Notre Dame Law School, for his paper, “The ‘Non-Ministerial’ Exception.” He examines what First Amendment protections, if any, exist for religious organizations outside the ministerial exception context. He received a $2,000 cash prize.
“The topic is of particular interest to me because my undergraduate alma mater is a small, private, religious school like the ones highlighted in the article,” said Sirilla. “It is getting increasingly difficult for these institutions to make employment decisions in accord with their sincerely held religious beliefs, but I firmly believe the First Amendment gives them the right to do so.”
Caitlin Flanagan, a rising third-year student at University of Virginia School of Law, was awarded third prize for her paper, “Peering Over the Wall of Separation: Carson v. Makin, Church Autonomy, and the Monitoring of Religious Institutions.” She received a $1,000 cash prize.
In her paper, Flanagan explores the implications of the Supreme Court's abandonment of the distinction between religious status and religious use. In addition, she presents some theoretical options and practical justifications for a neutral approach to the regulation of religious institutions, particularly those which take on public functions and which receive public funding.
Honorable mention was awarded to Brady Earley. He is currently an empirical research fellow at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU, as well as a J.D. candidate at the University of Chicago (on leave). He received a $500 cash prize.
His paper, “Responsible Religious Freedom,” uses quantitative and qualitative evidence to show how proportionality analysis in free exercise doctrine will place greater emphasis on government responsibilities over religious rights, reduce disproportionate outcomes for marginalized religious groups, and prevent unfettered religious exemptions from impeding effective governance.
“I was particularly drawn to this topic because so much of the discussion surrounding religious freedom and constitutional rights generally has become politicized and polarized. This article is an effort to refocus attention on the reciprocal responsibilities that accompany all fundamental rights,” said Earley.
The Program on Church, State & Society’s annual writing competition is open to law students in good standing, enrolled in a traditional law degree, a master’s degree, or a doctoral degree program at an ABA-accredited law school within the United States. The competition is also open to recent graduates not yet practicing law, including those completing clerkships or engaged in similar pursuits. Submissions are judged anonymously.
Learn more about Notre Dame Law School’s Program on Church, State & Society at churchstate.nd.edu.