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 all people 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 second Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit was held in July 2022 in Rome, Italy. The annual gathering brought together scholars, advocates, and religious leaders for conversations about the future of religious liberty in the U.S. and around the world.

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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.

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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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Notre Dame Law Review hosts symposium on ‘Unconstitutional Conditions and Religious Liberty’

Centered on the theme “Unconstitutional Conditions and Religious Liberty,” the symposium hosted by the Notre Dame Law Review brought together religious liberty experts from across the country for engaging discussions about their written scholarship on unconstitutional conditions.

Location Dixon Correctional Center

Notre Dame Religious Liberty Clinic represents Bruderhof, Sikh, and Muslim groups defending a Rastafarian inmate’s right to wear dreadlocks

The Notre Dame Religious Liberty Clinic filed an amicus brief in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals case Walker v. Baldwin, representing Bruderhof, Sikh, and Muslim groups.

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Commissioner Nury Turkel shares insights on the Uyghur genocide

Uyghur-American attorney and human rights advocate Nury Turkel sat with Professor Stephanie Barclay, director of the Religious Liberty Initiative, to share details on issues pertaining to freedom of religion and freedom of speech that have arisen as a result of the systemic cleansing of the Uyghur community.

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Catholic Schools and Religious Liberty: A Global Perspective

The University of Notre Dame and the Australian Catholic University will be jointly sponsoring a symposium in Rome on Catholic Schools and Religious Liberty: A Global Perspective. The symposium aims to increase knowledge about Catholic schools globally.

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Religious Liberty Issues in Healthcare

The Religious Liberty Initiative and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture held a panel discussion that addressed issues ranging from the legal challenges facing religious healthcare systems, cultural challenges facing medical students and doctors, the protection of religious rights of minority religions, and current issues in medical licensing and regulation.

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Careers in Religious Liberty

On September 26, Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative hosted a “Careers in Religious Liberty” discussion with a panel of accomplished attorneys who have addressed religious liberty questions in a variety of settings, including nonprofit organizations, universities, the federal government, and private law firms.

Student Involvement

Equipping the next generation to defend religious freedom is of central importance to the Religious Liberty Initiative. The initiative provides 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 our thirteen students in the 2022-2023 cohort.

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