Nichols, Joel

Joel A. Nichols

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor

Nichols, Joel
(651) 962-4827
(800) 328-6819, Ext. 2-4827

1000 LaSalle Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403-2015

Office Location: MSL 339

J.D., with high honors, Emory Law School

M.Div., Candler School of Theology, Emory University

B.A., summa cum laude, Abilene Christian University

Joel Nichols serves as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota). He is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University. His scholarship centers on the intersection of law and religion, especially in family law, First Amendment law, and human rights. He recently convened a project on the role of religion in marriage and divorce jurisdiction, which culminated in a major anthology from Cambridge University Press, titled Marriage and Divorce in a Multicultural Context: Multi-Tiered Marriage and the Boundaries of Civil Law and Religion. Dean Nichols also co-authored Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment, 3rd ed. (Westview, 2010) (with John Witte, Jr., Emory Law School). He has written nearly two dozen book chapters and articles, which have appeared in NYU Law Review, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Journal of Law and Religion, Family Court Review, and others. His recent work focuses upon pluralism in family law, the role for civil obedience (and disobedience), and the function of religion in both state and non-state law.

Before moving to St. Thomas in 2007, Dean Nichols taught at Pepperdine Law School. Prior to that, he had clerked for Judge Gerald Bard Tioflat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Jacksonville, Florida, and practiced complex civil litigation in Washington, D.C. at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now WilmerHale). He serves on the Executive Committee of the AALS Section on Family and Juvenile Law and the Program and Executive Committees of the AALS Section on Law and Religion. He has been a reviewer for the Aspen Publishers, Journal of Law and Religion, and Univ. of Virginia Press.

Professor Nichols is also involved in human rights, especially through Viva North America, where he serves a member of the Board of Directors. He was formerly Chair of Viva North America and a Trustee for Viva International (U.K.). He has assisted Viva’s International Center in Oxford, England with organizational strategic planning; serves on the Advisory Board of the nonprofit Educate Tanzania; and has provided human rights and leadership training to NGOs in Nairobi, Kenya.

Courses Taught

Number Title Credits
610 Contracts 4
827 Family Law 3
950 Supervised Resrch & Writing .5

Areas of Academic Expertise:

Human Rights

From the article "Grand Ideas: Faculty members describe the best ideas from their scholarship" St. Thomas Lawyer Magazine Fall 2011

Because law and religion are often inseparable, law cannot be studied in isolation from religion. Adding the lens of religion to the study of the law does at least two things. First, religion helps to distinguish genuine (or just) law from that which is counterfeit. All people have inherent rights that religion helps to delineate. If the law refuses to recognize those rights then the law is, simply, unjust. Second, religion tempers the claims of even “good” laws by reminding the state that individuals have more than one allegiance and authority – not only to the state and its laws, but also to their religions
and other associations, such as families and schools. This temperance should lead to modesty in law’s claims, thereby providing ample space for individuals and groups to associate freely. I write about these ideas in family law, constitutional law, human rights and legal history.

Upcoming: To ensure the continued consideration of religion in discussions of marriage and divorce, and to explore the intersection of law and religion in public life.

Minneapolis Star Tribune - "Evangelist sues for more access at Twin Cities Pride festival"

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Law and the Bible: Justice, Mercy and Legal Institutions - "Civil Law and Civil Disobedience: The Early Church and the Law"

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Law and Society Association Annual Meeting - "Authors Meet Readers: Yuksel Sezgin, 'Human Rights under State-Enforced Religious Family Laws' and Narendra Subramanian, 'Nation and Family'"

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Kare 11 - "Lawyers weigh in on Ventura verdict"

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HuffPost Live - "What Happens When Divorce & Religion Mix?"

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Books

Joel A. Nichols, Marriage and Divorce in a Multi-Cultural Context: Multi-Tiered Marriage and the Boundaries of Civil Law and Religion (Joel A. Nichols ed., Cambridge Univ. Press 2012).

John Witte, Jr. & Joel A. Nichols, Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment (3rd ed., Westview Press 2010).

Chapters

Joel A. Nichols & James W. McCarty III, The Early Church and the Civil Statein The Bible and the Law (Robert Cochran & David Van Drunen eds., InterVarsity Press, forthcoming 2012).

Joel A. Nichols, Introductionin Marriage and Divorce in a Multi-Cultural Context: Multi-Tiered Marriage and the Boundaries of Civil Law and Religion (Joel A. Nichols ed., Cambridge Univ. Press 2012).

Joel A. Nichols, Multi-Tiered Marriage: Reconsidering the Boundaries of Civil Law and Religionin Marriage and Divorce in a Multi-Cultural Context: Multi-Tiered Marriage and the Boundaries of Civil Law and Religion  (Joel A. Nichols ed., Cambridge Univ. Press 2012).

Joel A. Nichols & John Witte Jr., The Frontiers of Marital Pluralism, in Marriage and Divorce in a Multi-Cultural Context: Multi-Tiered Marriage and the Boundaries of Civil Law and Religion (Joel A. Nichols ed., Cambridge Univ. Press 2012).

Joel A. Nichols, Introduction, in Covenant Marriage in Comparative Perspective (John Witte, Jr. & Eliza Ellison eds., Eerdman's 2005).

Articles

Joel A. Nichols, The Best Thing About Anti-Sharia Statutes, 57 St. Louis U. L.J. (forthcoming 2012).

Joel A. Nichols & James W. McCarty III, When the State is Evil: Biblical Civil (Dis)Obedience in South Africa, 85 St. John’s L. Rev.  593 (2011).

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Joel A. Nichols, Misunderstanding Marriage and Missing Religion, 2011 Mich. St. L. Rev.  195 (2011).

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Joel A. Nichols, Religion, Marriage and Pluralism, 25 Emory Int’l L. Rev. 967 (2011).

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Joel A. Nichols & John Witte, Jr., Faith-Based Family Laws in Western Democracies?, 2010 Fides et Libertas 122 (2010).

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Joel A. Nichols, Evangelicals and Human Rights: The Continuing Ambivalence of Evangelical Christians’ Support for Human Rights, 24 J.L. & Relig.  629 (2009).

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Joel A. Nichols & John Witte, Jr., More Than a Mere Contract: Marriage As Contract and Covenant in Law and Theology, 5 U. St. Thomas L.J.  595 (2008).

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Joel A. Nichols, Multi-Tiered Marriage: Ideas and Influences from New York and Louisiana to the International Community, 40 Vand. J. Transnat’l L. 135 (2007). 

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Joel A. Nichols, Dual Lenses: Using Theology and International Human Rights Law to Assess China's 2005 Regulations on Religion, 34 Pepp. L. Rev. 105 (2006).

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Joel A. Nichols, Religious Liberty in the Thirteenth Colony: Church-State Relations in Colonial and Early National Georgia, 80 N.Y.U.  L. Rev. 1693 (2005).

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Joel A. Nichols & David W. Ogden, The Right to Anonymity Under the First Amendment, 49 Fed. Law. 44 (2002).

Joel A. Nichols, A Man True to His Principles: John Joachim Zubly and Calvinism, 43 J. Church & State 297 (2001).

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Joel A. Nichols, Louisiana’s Covenant Marriage Law: A First Step Toward a More Robust Pluralism in Marriage and Divorce Law?, 47 Emory L.J. 929 (1998).

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Joel A. Nichols, Mission, Evangelism, and Proselytism in Christianity: Mainline Conceptions as Reflected in Church Documents, 12 Emory Int’l L. Rev. 563 (1998).

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Short Pieces

Joel A. Nichols, Why Religion Can’t and Shouldn’t Be Overlooked: The Intersection of Civil and Religious Norms in Family Law and LifeFam. Ct. Rev. (forthcoming 2012).

Joel A. Nichols, Foreword: Trade, Terrorism, and Islam, 9 Univ. of St. Thomas L. J. __ (forthcoming 2012).

Joel A. Nichols, Marriage: Civil, Religious, Contractual, and More, 50 Fam. Ct. Rev. 222 (2012).

Joel A. Nichols, Kenya Connections: Problem-Solving, Leadership, and Human Rights, 3 St. Thomas Lawyer 10 (2010).

Joel A. Nichols, Foreword: Marriage, Religion, and the Role of the Civil State, 5 U. St. Thomas L.J. 544 (2008).

Encyclopedia Entries

Joel A. Nichols, Early Modern Period: Common Law Countries, in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Law (Brent Strawn et al. eds., Oxford Univ. Press forthcoming 2013).

Joel A. Nichols, Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961), in The Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties (Paul Finkelman ed., Routledge 2006).

Joel A. Nichols, McDaniel v. Paty, 435 U.S. 887 (1978), in The Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties (Paul Finkelman ed., Routledge 2006).

Book Reviews

Joel A. Nichols, The Surprising Truth About Sharia Family Law in the U.S. and Canada, 51 Family Court Review ___ (forthcoming April 2013) (reviewing Julie MacFarlane, Islamic Divorce in North America: A Sharia Path in a Secular Society (Oxford Univ. Press  2012)).

Joel A. Nichols, Book Review, ___ Journal of Law and Religion (forthcoming 2012) (reviewing Jane Mair & Esin Örücü eds., The Place of Religion in Family Law: A Comparative Search (Intersentia 2011)).

Joel A. Nichols, Book Review, 52 Am. J. Legal Hist. (forthcoming 2012) (reviewing Fay Botham, Almighty God Created the Races: Christianity, Interracial Marriage, and American Law (Univ. N.C. Press 2009)).

Joel A. Nichols, Book Review, 1 J. Christian Legal Thought 42 (2011) (reviewing John Witte, Jr. & Frank Alexander eds., Christianity and Human Rights: An Introduction (Cambridge Univ. Press 2010)).

Joel A. Nichols, How Do You Read the Law, The Christian Chronicle (April 2002) (reviewing Michael W. McConnell, Robert F. Cochran, Jr. & Angela C. Carmella eds., Christian Perspectives on Legal Thought (Yale Univ. Press 2001)).