Marci A. Hamilton Gives the 13th Annual Edwin L. Crawford Memorial Lecture on Municipal Law: Why RLUIPA is an Unconstitutional Establishment of Religion

Tanya Davis, Staff Writer, TDavis@albanylaw.edu    

     Friday, the third and final day of the God and the Land symposium, began with the Edwin Crawford Memorial Lecture on Municipal Law, delivered by Marci A. Hamilton, the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and author of God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the School of Law.1The subject of her lecture was the unconstitutionality of RLUIPA and the threat it poses to local municipalities in undermining their ability to enforce and draw up zoning laws. Professor Hamilton is one of the leading scholars in the nation in the area of the separation of church and state, and was lead counsel for City of Boerne, Texas in City of Boerne v. Flores2, which held the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA)3unconstitutional. She also clerked for Justice O’Conner when Employment Div. v. Smith4 was decided.   

     Professor Hamilton, who has often been accused of being “too extreme” in her support of the protection of religion, shared that she was “taken aback” when, as soon as she became lead counsel in the City of Boerne case, when she began to get calls from groups that lobby against religious institutions.  These were largely children’s advocacy groups, particularly those acting on behalf of children who die in faith healing homes and communities etc.  Ms. Hamilton soon learned that some religious groups had caused enough harm in our society to mobilize such a massive counter movement.  This was an eye opening experience for her.   Continue reading “Marci A. Hamilton Gives the 13th Annual Edwin L. Crawford Memorial Lecture on Municipal Law: Why RLUIPA is an Unconstitutional Establishment of Religion”

Panel 2: Legislative Intent and Statutory Interpretation Under RLUIPA

Sarah Darnell, Staff Writer, SDarnell@albanylaw.edu, Tanya Davis, Staff Writer, SDavis@albanylaw.edu & Daniel Wood, Staff Writer, DWood@albanylaw.edu

     The Symposium’s second panel explored legislative intent and statutory interpretation under RLUIPA.  The panel discussed how RLUIPA applies to building codes, aesthetic regulations, the exercise of eminent domain, and determining damages. 

Participating in the panel were:

Amy Lavine from the Albany Law School Government Law Center served as moderator. Continue reading “Panel 2: Legislative Intent and Statutory Interpretation Under RLUIPA”

Judge McConnell of the Tenth Circuit Offers the Edwin Sabota ’79 Memorial Lecture

Robert Magee, Staff Writer, RMagee@albanylaw.edu

     The second day of the symposium began in the Dean Alexander Moot Courtroom at Albany Law School with the Edward C. Sebota ’79 Memorial Lecture, delivered by the Honorable Michael McConnell of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.  He presented an overview of the judicial interpretation of the Free Exercise Clause as compared to similar interpretations of the Free Speech clause. He further explored the Supreme Court’s historical treatment of these protections and explained why and how and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) (1) came to be.

    After graduating from the University of Chicago Law School in 1979, Judge McConnell clerked for Judge James Skelly Wright of the D.C. Circuit and then Justice Brennan of the U.S. Supreme Court, from 1980-1981. He went on to teach at his alma mater and then the University of Utah college of law, where he teaches to this day. (2) 

     Judge McConnell was appointed to the 10th Circuit in September of 2001.  While sitting on the bench Michael McConnell has authored three opinions which have come before the Supreme Court which have been adopted by the Court. (3) Continue reading “Judge McConnell of the Tenth Circuit Offers the Edwin Sabota ’79 Memorial Lecture”

Panel 1: A Background on Religious Discrimination in Land Use

Daniel Wood, Staff Writer, DWood@albanylaw.edu & Robert Magee, Staff Writer, RMagee@albanylaw.edu

     The goal of the Symposium’s first panel was to provide a context for the development of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).1   Panelists discussed how property ownership patterns have affected the availability of land for religious uses, how religious discrimination has manifested itself in land use, and how the use of Native American sacred lands has been regulated. 

Participating in the panel were: