Marci A. Hamilton

MARCI A. HAMILTON is the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program Professor of Practice, and Fox Family Pavilion Resident Senior Fellow in the Program for Research on Religion at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the founder, CEO, and Academic Director of CHILD USA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit academic think tank at the University of Pennsylvania dedicated to interdisciplinary, evidence-based research to prevent child abuse and neglect. Before moving to the University of Pennsylvania, Professor Hamilton was the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University.

Hamilton is the leading expert on child sex abuse statutes of limitations and has submitted testimony and advised legislators in every state where significant reform has occurred. She is the author of Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children (Cambridge University Press), which advocates for the elimination of child sex abuse statutes of limitations. She has filed countless pro bono amicus briefs for the protection of children at the United States Supreme Court and the state supreme courts. Her textbook, Children and the Law, co-authored with Martin Gardner, will be published Fall 2017 by Carolina Academic Press, formerly Lexis/Nexis.

Hamilton has been a vocal and influential critic of extreme religious liberty, advocating for the vulnerable about overreaching. Hamilton successfully challenged the constitutionality of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) at the Supreme Court in Boerne v. Flores (1997), and defeated the RFRA claim brought by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee against hundreds of child sex abuse survivors in Committee of Unsecured Creditors v. Listecki (7th Cir. 2015). She has represented numerous cities dealing with church-state issues as well as claims brought under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA). The author of God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty (Cambridge University Press), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, she is also a columnist for Verdict on Justia.com.

Hamilton has been honored with the 2018 Pennsylvania State University Department of Philosophy Distinguished Alumni Award, the 2017 University of Pennsylvania Law School Louis H. Pollak Public Service Award, the 2016 Voice Today, Voice of Gratitude Award; the 2015 Religious Liberty Award, American Humanist Association; the 2014 Freethought Heroine Award; the National Crime Victim Bar Association’s Frank Carrington Champion of Civil Justice Award, 2012; the E. Nathaniel Gates Award for outstanding public advocacy and scholarship, 2008; and selected as a Pennsylvania Woman of the Year Award, 2012, among others. She is also frequently quoted in the national media on child abuse and neglect, statute of limitations, constitutional, RFRA, RLUIPA, and First Amendment issues.

Hamilton clerked for United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Judge Edward R. Becker of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Professor Hamilton is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, B.A., summa cum laude; Pennsylvania State University, M.A. (English, fiction writing, High Honors); M.A. (Philosophy); and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Order of the Coif.

Columns by Marci A. Hamilton

Jared Fogle, Ashley Madison, and When Will We Have the Fences that Make for Privacy and Safety on the Internet?

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Cardozo Law professor Marci Hamilton discusses the need for effective fences on the Internet that protect privacy but also permit authorities to enforce the law. Hamilton illustrates this need using examples such as the case of Jared Fogle, the former Subway spokesperson who is pleading guilty to charges of child solicitation and pornography, as well as the Internet's use as a tool for empowerment for victims of child sex abuse.

The Hijacking of the Term “Religious Liberty” for Political Gain

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Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton explains how politicians have intentionally conflated constitutional religious liberty—which comes from the First Amendment of the Constitution—and statutory religious liberty—which originated in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993—for political gain. Hamilton describes the many differences between these two types of religious liberty and calls upon politicians and journalists to disambiguate the term.

The Story Behind the Cosby Story: Sexual Assault and Secrets

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Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton comments on the latest revelations about Bill Cosby arising out of a deposition from a civil lawsuit from ten years ago. Hamilton explains why there are so many secrets about sexual assault, including short statutes of limitations and sealed admissions in civil cases, and calls for greater transparency and publicity.

The Fifth Circuit Joins the Growing Line of Courts Rejecting RFRA Arguments Against the Affordable Care Act’s Contraceptive Accommodation for Religious Nonprofit Employers

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Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton comments on a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit holding that RFRA does not immunize religious nonprofits from the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that they notify the government of their beliefs in order to be exempt from paying for their employees’ contraception.

The Seventh Circuit Injects Common Sense into Religious Liberty Debates with Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors v. Listecki

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Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton discusses the recent unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit holding that the Milwaukee Archdiocese is subject to the facially neutral bankruptcy laws against fraud during proceedings, despite its claims, based on free exercise arguments, to the contrary.

The Vaccine for Pollyanna Attitudes Toward Public Health and Religious Beliefs: Religious Exemptions for Vaccinations and Medical Neglect Need to Be Repealed Now and the Federal Government (and the Insurance Industry) Need to Incentivize the States to Do So

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Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton calls upon state legislators to repeal the laws that permit parents to refuse to vaccinate their children to the children’s detriment as well as to the detriment of the public.