Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative hosts the Law & Religion Junior Faculty Conference in Chicago

Author: Arienne Calingo


Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative hosted a thought-provoking and enriching conference at Notre Dame Law School's Chicago campus from October 27 to 28. The Law & Religion Junior Faculty Conference sought to advance scholarship that contributes to a deeper understanding of the dynamic relationship between law and religion. The conference participants consisted of our winning junior scholars, as well as distinguished senior scholars in the field of law and religion. Each junior scholar presented their individual papers at the conference and was paired up with a senior scholar who offered dedicated commentary on their paper.

The junior scholar winners, titles of their individual papers, and the corresponding distinguished commentator for that paper, include:

Angela Wu Howard on “Religious Exceptions to General Laws: Toward an Evaluative Framework” (with commentary by Andrew Koppelman)

Brady Earley on “Data-Driven Accommodations: Religious Exemptions in Markets of Discrimination” (with commentary by Netta Barak-Corren)

Branton Nestor on “The Origins and Historical Understanding of the Church Autonomy Doctrine’s Procedural Protections” (with commentary by Robin Wilson)

Francesca Genova Matozzo on “Morals By Any Other Name?: A Proposal to Consider Morals Justifications in Free-Exercise Jurisprudence” (with commentary by Marc DeGirolami)

Gabrielle Girgis on “A Strict Scrutiny Regime for Free Exercise Post-Smith” (with commentary by Michael McConnell)

Mark Storslee on “History and the School Prayer Cases” (with commentary by Doug Laycock)

Marc DeGirolami and Stephanie Barclay
Marc DeGirolami and Stephanie Barclay engage in a discussion during the break.

Stephanie Barclay, faculty director of Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative, gave the opening remarks to kick off the conference, as well as offered concluding remarks and reflections on the second day of the event.

In her remarks, Barclay highlighted the unique opportunity the junior scholars had to receive individualized feedback on their work, as well as the potential for knowledge exchange and collaboration that the conference offered. She was also enthusiastic about future editions of the conference in hopes to foster and facilitate continued critical discussion, encouragement, and mentorship between junior and senior scholars.

This year, there were over 40 submissions of proposed papers, which were competitively narrowed down by a jury of distinguished scholars. Submissions were limited to unpublished papers by junior faculty, or tenure-track law faculty who have been teaching for no more than 10 years. Aspiring scholars who have not yet obtained their first tenure-track appointments, including teaching or other fellows and visiting assistant professors, were also welcome to submit papers for consideration.

Netta Barak-Corren and Brady Earley
Netta Barak-Corren offers feedback to junior scholar Brady Earley on his paper about religious exemptions.

The Law & Religion Junior Faculty Conference is part of the Religious Liberty Initiative’s ongoing effort to achieve its strategic goal of promoting thought leadership. The initiative seeks to step forward institutionally as a global thought leader to foster meaningful public engagement with the ideals of religious liberty and to promote the work of scholars across disciplines, both at Notre Dame and elsewhere, who are advancing these ideals.

About the Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Initiative

Established in 2020, the Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Initiative promotes and defends religious freedom for all people through advocacy, formation, and thought leadership. The initiative protects the freedom of individuals to hold religious beliefs as well as their right to exercise and express those beliefs and to live according to them.

The Religious Liberty Initiative has represented individuals and organizations from an array of faith traditions to defend the right to religious worship, to preserve sacred lands from destruction, to promote the freedom to select religious ministers, and to prevent discrimination against religious schools and families.

Learn more about the Religious Liberty Initiative at

Originally published by Arienne Calingo at on November 08, 2023.