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2015-2016 Year-End Message

Dear Friends,

It’s been another exciting and productive year at the Center for Law and Religion, and I’m pleased to share some highlights of our 2015-2016 activities, achievements, and initiatives:

Center News

  • We received a major grant from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation to support the first year of the Tradition Project, a new research initiative that will explore the value of tradition for contemporary citizens and the relationship of tradition and change in today’s world. Launching in Fall 2016, the Project will bring together leading public figures, scholars, judges, and journalists for lectures, workshops, and sponsored research. Work related to the project will include book manuscripts, journal articles, and curricular development.
  • We hosted the third biennial Colloquium in Law and Religion, an innovative seminar that brings outside jurists and scholars to St. John’s to present papers to selected students and faculty. This year’s participants included Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, as well as Professors Robert George (Princeton), Brett Scharffs (BYU), Mark Tushnet (Harvard), and Robin Wilson (Illinois).
  • We added a Conversation on current law and religion cases at the Supreme Court to the Center’s slate of annual programs. Timed to coincide with the start of the new Court term in October, this year’s conversation featured U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan (SDNY), who serves on the Center’s Board of Advisers.
  • We welcomed the Center’s inaugural Global Law Fellow, Fabiana Dal Cin, to St. John’s for the spring semester. A doctoral student at the State University Ca' Foscari, in Venice, Italy, Dal Cin conducted research for her thesis on Catholic social theory and property law, and audited courses in law and religion and constitutional law.
  • We continued to address a range of timely issues in law and religion online at the Center for Law and Religion Forum ( The blog’s content regularly draws media attention and has been cited in major law reviews. In addition to providing commentary from Center faculty and guest bloggers, we launched a new series, Dispatches from Kabul, by former student fellow Jessica Wright ’14, and offered our daily Scholarship Roundup produced by current student fellows Stephanie Cipolla ‘16 and Christina Vlahos ‘17.

Faculty and Board News

  • Center Director Mark L. Movsesian and Associate Director Marc O. DeGirolami presented papers at a symposium on the 50th Anniversary of Dignitatis Humanae at Notre Dame Law School. Professor Movsesian’s paper, “Of Human Dignities,” and Professor DeGirolami’s paper, “Virtue, Freedom, and the First Amendment,” will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Notre Dame Law Review. Judge Richard J. Sullivan moderated one of the panels at the conference.
  • Professor Movsesian gave a keynote speech at the second annual International Law and Religion Moot Court Competition in Venice, Italy. Judge Sullivan served as one of the competition’s judges.
  • Center faculty presented papers at the annual ICON-S Conference at NYU Law School and at workshops at Università LUMSA in Rome, Notre Dame Law School, and St. John’s University School of Law.
  • Professor DeGirolami was a moderator for the Libertas Project, an initiative conducted by Villanova Law School and supported by the Templeton Foundation to study religious freedom and economic freedom in a framework that situates both topics amid a larger conversation about freedom, law, and virtue. Professor Movsesian participated in the seminar as a discussant.
  • Professor DeGirolami’s chapter, “The Bloating of the Constitution: Equality and the US Establishment Clause,” was included in The Social Equality of Religion or Belief, published by Palgrave Macmillan. He also had papers published in the Stanford Law & Policy Review and the San Diego Law Review, both on topics of religious liberty. His paper, “Substantial Burdens Imply Central Beliefs,” was accepted for publication by the Illinois Law Review online. He also published a short piece on Professor Nicholas Wolterstorff’s book, The Mighty and the Almighty: An Essay in Political Theology, in the Journal of Analytic Theology. He is presently writing an essay for a symposium edition of the Lewis and Clark Law Review on “Religion, Tradition, and Political Polarization.”
  • Center faculty continued to contribute commentary pieces for the journal First Things, for the Liberty Fund’s Library of Law and Liberty, and for Commonweal Magazine. Professor DeGirolami’s short essays on Justice David Josiah Brewer and Justice Antonin Scalia appear in The Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States, published by Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Professor DeGirolami completed his term as Chair of the AALS Section on Law and Religion, which organized a panel on “Religious Responses to Same-Sex Marriage,” which was moderated by Professor Michael Helfand (Pepperdine) and included panelists Erik Eckholm of the New York Times, Professor Katherine Franke (Columbia), R.R. Reno of the journal First Things, Professor Kevin Walsh (Richmond), and Professor Robin Wilson (Illinois).
  • The proceedings of the Center’s 2014 Rome conference on “International Religious Freedom,” at which Pope Francis gave the keynote, appeared in print.
  • CLR Board Member Mary Kay Vyskocil ’83 was sworn in as a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Southern District of New York.

Thank you for being part of the Center community. We have much more planned for the coming year, so please continue to follow us at the Center for Law and Religion Forum, and on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions for future programs.


Mark L. Movsesian