Religious liberty is the first freedom articulated in the U.S. Bill of Rights, and Pope Francis has said it “remains one of America’s most precious possessions,” adding that “all are called to be vigilant ... to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.”

Established in 2020, Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative promotes religious freedom for people of all faiths through scholarship, events, and the Law School’s Religious Liberty Clinic.

Learn more about the Religious Liberty Initiative:

“Without freedom of conscience — to believe, and then to live our lives as our beliefs require us — nothing else matters.” – Dean G. Marcus Cole

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Religious Liberty Summit

The inaugural Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit brought scholars, advocates, and religious leaders to campus in June 2021 for conversations about the future of religious liberty in the U.S. and around the world.

The second Religious Liberty Summit will be held from July 20-22 in Rome, Italy.

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Leadership

The Religious Liberty Initiative draws upon the expertise of a diverse community of scholars, advocates, and faith leaders from Notre Dame Law School’s faculty and beyond.

The initiative is directed by Stephanie Barclay, a First Amendment expert who researches the role democratic institutions play in protecting minority rights, particularly at the intersection of free speech and religion.

Meet Our People

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Religious Liberty Clinic

With the receipt of a transformational gift from Matt and Lindsay Moroun and family, Notre Dame Law School will put its rich tradition of religious liberty scholarship into practice by creating the Notre Dame Religious Liberty Clinic.

The clinic will train lawyers to defend religious freedom by pursuing claims in trial courts as well as appeals up to and including the Supreme Court.

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News

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Religious Liberty Clinic files brief in Supreme Court case Smith v. Ward

The clinic’s brief asserts that all people, including those who are incarcerated, have a fundamental right to live in accordance with their religious beliefs.

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City Journal publishes essay by Professor Nicole Garnett and student

“The Supreme Court has a chance to make clear that the Constitution does not permit the government to discriminate against expressions of faith.”

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Program on Church, State & Society receives transformational gift

With the generous benefaction, the program is poised to further establish Notre Dame Law School as the leader in the area of law and religion.

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Events

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Book Launch & Discussion: ‘No Escape’ by Nury Turkel

On July 4 in London, Commissioner Turkel will be joined by Lord David Alton to discuss this powerful memoir that lays bare China’s repression of the Uyghur people.

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Video: ‘Our Dear-Bought Liberty’ Book Discussion with Michael Breidenbach

On April 4, Professor Breidenbach of Ave Maria University talked about his book on Catholics and religious toleration in early America.

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Video: ‘The Immortals’ Book Discussion with Steven Collis

On March 21, Professor Collis of the Bech-Loughlin First Amendment Center at the University of Texas spoke about his recently published book.

Student Involvement

Equipping the next generation to defend religious freedom is of central importance to the Religious Liberty Initiative. The initiative will provide law students with numerous opportunities to learn about relevant case law and gain experience with research, writing, and litigation on real-world cases. 

Click on the button below to read about the 11 second- and third-year students in the 2021-2022 cohort.

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