Three Miami Law students traveled recently to Washington D.C. to participate in a religious liberty conference organized by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society at Georgetown University Law Center. The gathering, held annually, was addressed by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; and Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah.
The trip by the three students – Tanner Forman, 1L; Nate Irvine, 2L; and Zach Gerber, 3L – was made possible by the Law Activity Fee Allocation Committee, which provides students with funding to attend conferences, hold events, and learn about the law in other ways.
The conference focused on religious liberty, legal professionalism, and service issues. Holland spoke about the importance of the family in preserving freedom in America, while Justice Thomas and Senator Lee focused their remarks on maintaining religious freedoms under the First Amendment. A panel composed of lawyers from the Catholic Church, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Stanford Law's Religious Liberty Clinic, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints discussed religious liberty issues in such Supreme Court cases as EEOC v. Hosanna-Tabor and Smith v. Employment Division. In addition, federal and state judges spoke about legal advocacy.
The Miami Law students returned with a greater understanding of religious liberty discussion in the United States and with hopes of expanding that conversation at Miami Law. The students are in the process of bringing Bill Atkin, general legal counsel for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to Miami Law in the coming months. Atkin is a former managing partner of several international and domestic offices of Baker & McKenzie.