Professor Richard Garnett appointed to serve as a lay consultant on the USCCB's Committee for Religious Liberty

Author: Arienne Calingo

Richard Garnett

Professor Richard W. Garnett, the Paul J. Schierl/Fort Howard Corporation Professor of Law and director of Notre Dame Law School's Program on Church, State & Society, has been appointed by Bishop Kevin Rhoades to serve as a lay consultant, for a three-year term, on the Committee for Religious Liberty of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty seeks to strengthen and sustain religious freedom by assisting U.S. bishops, individually and collectively, to teach about religious freedom to the faithful and the broader public, and to promote and defend religious freedom in law and policy.

“The Catholic Church is an advocate for religious freedom, in the United States and around the world. Our teaching is that every person, because he or she is a person, is endowed with human dignity and therefore enjoys the right to religious liberty,” Garnett said. “It is an honor and a privilege to assist the Catholic bishops in the United States in their important efforts to vindicate the fundamental human right to religious freedom.”

The Committee has a number of responsibilities, such as collaborating with other USCCB committees on religious liberty issues, developing educational materials, sponsoring the annual Religious Freedom Week from June 22-29, providing materials for the Solemnity of Christ the King, circulating fact sheets and other information on critical issues, publishing the First Freedom newsletter, providing dioceses with religious liberty liturgical resources, and coordinating and advising on public policy efforts regarding these issues.

Garnett teaches and writes about freedoms of speech, association, religion, and constitutional law. He is a leading authority on questions and debates on the role of religious believers and beliefs in politics and society.

He is the founding director of Notre Dame Law School's Program on Church, State, and Society, an interdisciplinary program that focuses on the intersection of church, state, and society, and how the law structures and governs that intersection. He also serves as a faculty fellow for the Law School's Religious Liberty Initiative and has filed several amicus briefs in cases on behalf of the Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Clinic.

In October 2023, Garnett received the "Pope Pius XI Award for Contributions toward the Building Up of a True Catholic Social Science" from the Society of Catholic Social Scientists. The award was presented at the annual Society of Catholic Social Scientists conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Garnett is the co-author (with John Witte Jr. and Joel A. Nichols) of the fifth edition of "Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment," published by Oxford University Press. The book tells the story of religious liberty in America from its colonial beginnings to the latest Supreme Court cases.