Marci A. Hamilton

Marci A. Hamilton

Marci A. Hamilton is one of the leading church/state scholars in the United States, a Fox Distinguished Scholar in the Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania, and the CEO and Academic Director of the nonprofit think tank to prevent child abuse and neglect, CHILD USA. She is the author of God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty and Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children, and numerous scholarly articles. She has been a visiting professor at Princeton University, New York University School of Law, Emory University School of Law, and the Princeton Theological Seminary. Professor Hamilton was lead counsel for the City of Boerne, Texas, in the landmark decision, Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997), and has served as constitutional law counsel in many important cases involving religion, particularly in the area of clergy sex abuse and religious land use. Professor Hamilton clerked for Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the United States Supreme Court and Judge Edward R. Becker of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; and received a J.D. from Pennsylvania Law School, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review; an M.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University; an M.A. in Philosophy from Pennsylvania State University; and a B.A. from Vanderbilt University.

Columns by Marci A. Hamilton

Mississippi, the First Amendment Defense Act, Accommodation, and Apartheid

Cardozo Law professor Marci Hamilton comments on Mississippi’s latest law stigmatizing and marginalizing the LGBTQ community, and compares it to the federal First Amendment Defense Act. Hamilton argues that these divisive and discriminatory laws resemble apartheid in South Africa in that they are purported to be accommodations but in fact are simply immoral and wrong.

Hooray! Finally Dropping the Blinders, Religious Leaders Are Calling Out Terrorists, Haters, Pedophiles and the Institutions that Enable Them

Cardozo law professor Marci A. Hamilton describes a relatively new phenomenon of religious leaders coming together to criticize bad acts—even bad acts perpetrated by people who purport to be religious themselves. Hamilton explains how for too long, religious actors seemed beyond reproach no matter what they did, simply by nature of being religious. She expresses great relief that such a period seems to be passing, as evidenced by the widespread support for the LGBTQ community in response to the recent shooting at the Orlando gay club Pulse.

RFRA, Zubik v. Burwell, and the Do No Harm Act

Cardozo Law professor Marci Hamilton comments on the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Zubik v. Burwell, in which the Court via a per curiam opinion declined to interpret the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as applied to the Affordable Care Act. Hamilton also describes the Do No Harm Act, which is a bill proposed this week that attempts to carve out of RFRA some of its worst incentives and inclinations. While Hamilton argues that RFRA should be repealed outright, she acknowledges that the Do No Harm Act is absolutely a step in the right direction.

Thank You, Penn State

Cardozo Law professor Marci Hamilton explains how the Sandusky scandal at Penn State revealed that ignoring and covering up child sex abuse over an extended period of time is not unique to the Catholic church. Hamilton argues that Joe Paterno knew of the child sex abuse long before it came to public light but that he chose to keep Sandusky because doing so served his own ends.

Rabbis With a Conscience Make History

Cardozo Law professor Marci Hamilton comments on a recent development in protections for child sex abuse victims’ access to justice: a letter signed by 62 Jewish rabbis and leaders calling for New York to pass the Child Victims Act, which would create access to justice for child sex abuse victims by eliminating and reviving expired statutes of limitations.

Bucks County DA David Heckler’s Mixed Signals on Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations for Child Sex Abuse

Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton examines the position Bucks County, Pennsylvania, District Attorney David Heckler has taken with respect to child sex abuse and sex assault victims. Hamilton points out that Heckler does not seem to truly support the protection of children, based on his role in the misleading statements about SOL in the Task Force Report, the delay in release of a grand jury report that supports SOL reform, and the failure to prosecute a Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse.

The 1-2 Punch the Catholic Bishops Have Delivered to Clergy Sex Abuse Victims

Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton and guest columnist and child traumatology specialist Steven Berkowitz, M.D., describe the several ways in which Catholic bishops have prevent sex abuse victims from seeking justice for their abusers. Hamilton and Berkowitz argue that justice demands that legislators revive expired civil statutes of limitations and, going forward, eliminate the criminal and civil statutes of limitation for child sex abuse.

The Obama Administration Draws Back From the Precipice of Theocracy

Cardozo Law professor Marci Hamilton describes two recent events that indicate that the United States remains dedicated to a culture of freedom and tolerance, rather than moving toward theocracy. As Hamilton explains, the federal government has taken action against the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for establishing a theocracy on the border of Utah and Arizona, and also for money laundering and food stamp fraud.

Legislators Should Find Courage in Spotlight’s Success and Motivation in Yet Another Grand Jury Report, and Finally Do SOL Reform Right

Cardozo Law professor Marci Hamilton discusses the recently released report on abuse in the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese in Pennsylvania. Hamilton argues that with the motion picture Spotlight having received the Oscar for Best Motion Picture, legislators in Pennsylvania and elsewhere should have even greater motivation to reform civil and criminal statutes of limitations with respect to victims of child sex abuse.

In Defense of Justice Scalia on Religious Liberty and Smith

In honor of the recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Cardozo Law professor Marci Hamilton discusses the Court’s decision in Employment Div. v. Smith, in which Justice Scalia wrote for the majority holding that a law is constitutional under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment if it is facially neutral and generally applied. Hamilton lauds the decision as striking the right balance between liberty and harm, and between religious diversity and religious tyranny.

Godly Rhetoric in Presidential Campaigns: Cruz, Rubio, and Reagan

Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton comments on the use of religious terms in among the Republican presidential candidates, particularly terms that refer to a specific religio-political world view. Hamilton especially critiques Cruz’s and Rubio’s invocation of Ronald Reagan’s name, pointing out that Reagan tried to bring Americans together in his speeches, even in his references to God.

Sex Abuse Statute of Limitations Reform 2015 Year in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton discusses some of the changes 2015 saw with respect to reform of sex abuse statutes of limitations. Hamilton praises such progress as the sweeping inquiries undertaken by Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the release of the award-winning motion picture, Spotlight, which chronicles the Boston Globe journalists’ path to breaking the story of priest abuse in the Catholic church.

Donald Trump and the Need for Civil, Accurate Discourse

Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton argues that Donald Trump and his extreme comments illustrate the need for civil, accurate discourse, rather than blunderbuss and showmanship. Hamilton points to the work by the Program in Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society at the University of Pennsylvania, which is conducting a social experiment that shows that people from different sides of the political/religious divide can have a meaningful conversation and reach agreement for the common good.

The Opposite of ISIS Is the First Amendment, And Its Members Are Extremist Islamic Terrorists

Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton argues that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution stands for the opposite of everything that ISIS stands for, and furthermore, that denying the religious roots of Islamic terrorists does a disservice both to peaceful Muslims and to the public at large. Hamilton points out that by identifying ISIS as religious extremists, we can better accept that they are dogmatic, unbending fundamentalists rather than mere political actors.

Waves Up, Presidential Candidates

Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton predicts that the release of the motion picture Spotlight—which is about the cover up of child sex abuse by priests in the Boston Archdiocese—will force the hands of politicians and candidates across the country with respect to their positions on these issues.

On the Tenth Anniversary of the 2005 Philadelphia Grand Jury Report on Child Sex Abuse in the Archdiocese

Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton celebrates the ten-year anniversary of the groundbreaking 2005 Grand Jury Report on Child Sex Abuse in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. She argues that while that document pales in comparison to the Australian Commission’s report on abuse in that country, it is still hugely significant and should serve as the benchmark for responsible prosecutorial initiative on clergy sex abuse in the United States.