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

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.

Pope Francis Visits Philadelphia and Promises No More Secrets

Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton comments on the recent visit by Pope Francis to Philadelphia on the ten-year anniversary of the release of the landmark Grand Jury Report on Sexual Abuse in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. Hamilton argues that now is the time for state legislators to eliminate statutes of limitations for civil sex abuse suits and revive those claims that have expired due to short statutes of limitations.

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

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

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

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.