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Marci A. Hamilton: Author, God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law


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Marci A. Hamilton is Author, God vs. the Gavel Religion and the Rule of Law and expert on constitutional and copyright law.

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Marci A. Hamilton: Author, God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law

  1. 1. LAWCROSSING THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF LEGAL JOBS ON EARTH LAW STAR 1. 800.973.1177 Marci A. Hamilton: Author, God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law [By Charisse Dengler] Author of God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law and an expert on constitutional and copyright law, Marci A. Hamilton said it was her involvement in Boerne v. Flores that ultimately determined the path of her career. Ever since the landmark case, she has been devoted to issues involving the separation of church and state.Upon graduation from Penn Law School unfortunately passed away—was successful In the first chapter of the book, Hamiltonin 1988, where she graduated magna cum in persuading the Court that RFRA was explains her switch from being a person wholaude and served as Editor-in-Chief of the unconstitutional because it violated believed in strong protection of religiousPenn Law Review, Hamilton clerked for federalism—sometimes called states’ entities to being someone whose career isJudge Edward R. Becker and Justice Sandra rights—and was an attempt to amend the dedicated to both monitoring and fightingDay O’Connor. She then began teaching and First Amendment through simple majority religious entities that have too much freedomhelped found the Cardozo School of Law vote.” to harm.(Yeshiva University) Intellectual Property LawProgram, serving as the program’s director Hamilton wrote one of the first articles “My work with RFRA in the Boerne caseuntil passing it on to Professor Justin to attack RFRA’s constitutionality, which brought me into contact with many groupsHughes. appeared in the Cardozo Law Review. that lobby against religious entities in Denton, Boerne’s city attorney, contacted her various contexts, including many children’sCurrently, she holds the position of Paul R. when he learned her article was forthcoming. advocates,” she said. “The more I learnedVerkuil Chair in Public Law, teaches at the It was her involvement in the case that about the dark side of religious entities inlaw school, and spends her sabbaticals at led her to write God vs. the Gavel, a book American culture and the harm they arePrinceton Theological Seminary. In addition, that deals with the controversial subject of capable of generating, the more devoted Ishe is a wife and a dedicated mother of two, separation of church and state. became to ensuring that the United Statesand she’s also busy working on another book. hold them accountable for the harm they do. “The first half of God vs. the Gavel documents Personal responsibility is the American way, the reality that religious entities harm others“Finding the time in the day to do all that is after all.” and that, too often, they do so with legalnecessary to do the best I possibly can, while protection,” Hamilton said. “For example,preserving my best time for my family [is Hamilton is currently an advisor to clergy- children in faith-healing homes have beenone of the more difficult things about being abuse victims around the nation on medically neglected to their deaths in statesa lawyer],” she said. “I am very fortunate constitutional issues, and she also advises where there are religious exemptions to thebecause both Judge Becker and Justice Congress and state legislatures on pending medical neglect laws.”O’Connor set sterling examples of dedication their careers coupled with intense family “It is to be expected that religious entitiesdevotion.” “Most recently, I have testified in numerous lobby elected representatives and flex their states regarding the constitutionality muscle,” she continued. “The problem withHamilton, who was the lead litigator before of legislation intended to aid victims of the system is that elected representativesthe U.S. Supreme Court for the City of childhood sexual abuse,” she said. fail to ask the hard questions when theyBoerne, TX, in Boerne vs. Flores, refers to are approached by a religious entity. Theyher involvement in the case as life-changing. Led to the field of law by admiration for her blindly assume that if it is good for religion, grandfather, William Wehrli, who was the it is good for society. God vs. the Gavel“The question in the case was whether Casper, WY, City Attorney during Prohibition establishes that that is not true empirically,the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and who represented Wyoming in a water and, therefore, the right rule is to apply the[RFRA] was constitutional,” she said. “Our rights case before the Supreme Court, laws that apply to everyone else to religiousteam—which included Lowell Denton, a Hamilton thoroughly enjoys her choice of entities. Exemptions for religiously motivatedgreat attorney in San Antonio, TX, and profession. action are only deserved where the conductlocal city attorney Gordon Hollon, who has permitted does not harm others.”PAGE continued on back
  2. 2. LAWCROSSING THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF LEGAL JOBS ON EARTH LAW STAR 1. 800.973.1177“Lawyers are very lucky because they have it is a very satisfying blend of intellectual Cardozo Law Reviewan endless variety of mental challenges challenge, practical problem solving, and www.cardozolawreview.combefore them,” she said. “There is interesting real-world issues.”variety within individual arenas—intellectual Princeton Theological Seminaryproperty, corporate, tax, or real estate. But ON THE NET www.ptsem.edulawyers also have a greater capacity thanother professionals to change course if that University of Pennsylvania Law Schoolis where their hearts take them. For myself,