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Hannah C. Smith

Senior Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Senior Counsel Hannah Smith joined Becket in 2007 following two clerkships at the U.S. Supreme Court for Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito, Jr.

Ms. Smith was a member of the Becket legal team that secured victories in key U.S. Supreme Court religious liberty cases, including Holt v. Hobbs, 574 U.S. ___ (Jan. 20, 2015), where a unanimous Court held in an opinion authored by Justice Alito that the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act requires prison officials to accommodate peaceful expressions of religious devotion; Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 134 S. Ct. 2751 (June 30, 2014), where the Court held in a 5-4 opinion authored by Justice Alito that family-owned businesses enjoy religious liberty rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and that the HHS mandate violated the Act; and Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, 132 S. Ct. 694 (2012), where a unanimous Court held in an opinion authored by Chief Justice Roberts that the “ministerial exception” under the First Amendment protects a church’s right to choose its own ministers.

Ms. Smith contributed to Becket's Supreme Court filings in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell (2015); Houston Baptist University v. Burwell (2015); Stormans v. Wiesman (2015); Michigan Catholic Conference v. Burwell (2015); Obergefell v. Hodges (2015); University of Notre Dame v. Burwell (2014); Wheaton College v. Burwell, 134 S. Ct. 2806 (2014); Little Sisters of the Poor v. Sebelius, 134 S. Ct. 1022 (2014); Bronx Household of Faith v. New York City Board of Education (2014), Elmbrook School District v. Doe (2014), Big Sky Colony v. Montana Department of Labor and Industry (2013), Sossamon v. Texas (2011), Arizona Christian School Tuition Association v. Winn (2011), Bronx Household of Faith v. New York City Board of Education (2011), Utah Highway Patrol Association v. American Atheists (2011), Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (2010), and Salazar v. Buono (2010).

Ms. Smith has been featured on CNN, Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, The Sean Hannity Show, C-Span, EWTN, Al Jazeera America, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, U.S. News and World Report, the Associated Press, National Review Online, Bloomberg News, NPR, BBC, the Laura Ingraham Show, the Rush Limbaugh Show, the Hugh Hewitt Show, BYU Radio, and many other publications and radio shows. She has been invited to speak on religious liberty at Harvard Law School, Princeton University, Stanford Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Southern Methodist University Law School, Brigham Young University Law School, American University Washington College of the Law, and Central European University. And she has given briefings on religious liberty issues at the U.S. Capitol, the State Department, the Heritage Foundation, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, the American Bar Association, and the National Constitution Center.

Ms. Smith received her B.A. from Princeton University, concentrating in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She graduated with honors from Brigham Young University Law School and was elected to the Order of the Coif. She served as Executive Editor of the BYU Law Review, as a research assistant for the BYU International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and as president of the BYU Federalist Society. BYU awarded her its Alumni Achievement Award for her work in the defense of religious freedom. Ms. Smith also received the J. Reuben Clark Law Society's Women-in-Law Leadership Award for her national leadership in defending religious liberty and advancing the contributions of Mormon women to the law.

Following law school and in between clerkships, she was an associate in private practice at Williams & Connolly and Sidley Austin in Washington D.C., representing clients before state and federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court in civil, criminal, and constitutional cases. Her private practice religious liberty work included the U.S. Supreme Court petition for certiorari in Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints v. First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City (2003), as well as matters on behalf of Brigham Young University, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington D.C.

Ms. Smith served as a full-time volunteer missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in France and Switzerland. She currently serves as a member of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society International Board and as a member of the Deseret News Editorial Advisory Board. She writes on religious liberty issues in the Deseret News. Hannah and her husband John are happily married with 4 wonderful children.


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Publications and Multimedia
Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer - Post-Argument SCOTUScast
SCOTUScast 4-28-17 featuring Hannah C. Smith
April 28, 2017
Courthouse Steps: Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer - Podcast
Religious Liberties Practice Group Podcast
April 21, 2017