Religious Liberty Appellate Clinic
The Religious Liberty Appellate Clinic is offered to students in fall and spring for 3 credits.
This clinical course gives a small number of students each semester the opportunity to write appellate briefs, primarily amicus curiae briefs, in cases involving religious liberty in the U.S. Supreme Court, lower federal courts, and state appellate courts. The primary clients are national civil-liberties organizations and national religious organizations. Each student should expect to draft one appellate brief and, depending on workload, other written work product. Through readings as well as practice, students will learn basic principles of religious liberty, conscience protection, and appellate writing, including intensive writing work and attention to the distinctive strategic issues in drafting effective amicus briefs.
The clinic supports religious freedom for all faiths. It has filed briefs on behalf of Muslim, Jewish, and (both small and large) Christian groups. It has supported claims by a Muslim man practicing his faith in prison, by a small church advertising its worship services, and by many other individuals and groups.
Professor Tom Berg, the clinic's supervising attorney, is a prominent First Amendment appellate advocate who has written and filed briefs in nearly 60 significant cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and other appellate courts. The clinic gives students an intensive experience in formulating, writing and refining appellate arguments, and in the strategy of framing arguments by amici curiae, who typically present distinctive information or issues that may benefit the judges deciding the case.
Briefs drafted by Religious Liberty Appellate Clinic students:
United States Supreme Court:
- Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley (on the merits)
- Reed v. Town of Gilbert (on the merits)
- Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue (supporting certiorari petition)
- Patterson v. Walgreen Co. (supporting cert)
- First Resort, Inc. v. Herrera (supporting cert)
- Sterling v. United States (supporting cert)
United States Courts of Appeals:
- Harris v. Escamilla (Ninth Circuit)
- Gaylor v. Mnuchin (Seventh Circuit)
- Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns v. Baltimore (Fourth Circuit)
- Freedom from Religion Foundation v. Lew (Seventh Circuit)
- Child Evangelism Fellowship v. Cleveland School District (Sixth Circuit)
State appellate courts: