Marci A. Hamilton

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

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

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

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.

Supreme Court Preview of Holt v. Hobbs: When in the Era of Extreme Religious Liberty Can State Prison Administrators Enforce Security Needs?

Cardozo Law professor Marci Hamilton discusses a case for which the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments next week, in which a Muslim inmate in an Arkansas prison is arguing for the right under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) to have a beard, despite the prison’s rule prohibiting beards.

Who Will Protect New York’s Children from Preventable Death and Permanent Disability?

Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton discusses an archaic Orthodox Jewish practice that persists despite putting infants at risk of death or permanent injury. Hamilton describes a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit holding that strict scrutiny applies to the New York City regulation requiring that rabbis receive informed consent from an infant’s parents before performing the dangerous ritual. Hamilton explains why, in her view, the Second Circuit erred in reaching that decision, and moreover, why current criminal laws should be used to protect children from being exposed to the risk.

The Circle Starts to Close: The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Abortion, the Catholic Bishops, and the Satanic Temple

Cardozo Law professor Marci Hamilton comments on a recent move by the Satanic Temple seeking exemption from coercive informed consent laws citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. Hamilton describes the Catholic bishops’ apprehension toward the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) when it was being considered over twenty years ago and how quickly they got behind it after it passed. Finally, Hamilton describes how clear it is now that RFRA cuts both ways.

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Strikes Again, But Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Strikes Out

Cardozo Law professor Marci Hamilton comments on a recent statement by the Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner that purportedly applies the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. to that state’s law. Hamilton critiques the interpretation as misunderstanding the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and calls upon state courts not only to correctly understand the scope of the Hobby Lobby decision, but to reject the Hobby Lobby majority’s reasoning when interpreting their own state’s laws.

Hobby Lobby Yields More Rancor as Wheaton College Queues Up to Deny Contraceptive Coverage to Its Female Employees

Cardozo Law professor Marci Hamilton discusses Wheaton College’s request to receive accommodation under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to avoid providing some reproductive coverage for its female employees. Hamilton draws upon her own personal experience and points out that the recent controversies over RFRA in the U.S. Supreme Court have revealed that law’s true nature.