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Prof. Marci A. Hamilton

Fox Family Pavilion Distinguished Scholar in Residence, University of Pennsylvania
Marci Hamilton

MARCI A. HAMILTON is a Fox Family Pavilion Distinguished Scholar in Residence in the Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society at the University of Pennsylvania.  She is also the founder, CEO, and Academic Director of CHILD USA, www.childusa.org, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit academic think tank at the University of Pennsylvania dedicated to interdisciplinary, evidence-based research to prevent child abuse and neglect.  Before joining the program on religion at Penn, Professor Hamilton was the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University.

Hamilton is the leading public intellectual critic of extreme religious liberty and its impact on vulnerable populations including children, LGBTQ, and women.  The author of God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty (Cambridge University Press), which was  nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, she is also a columnist for Verdict on Justia.com.  Hamilton successfully challenged the constitutionality of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) at the Supreme Court in Boerne v. Flores (1997), and defeated the RFRA claim brought by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee against hundreds of child sex abuse survivors in Committee of Unsecured Creditors v. Listecki (7th Cir. 2015). 

Drawing on her experience studying and advising in cases involving clergy sex abuse, Hamilton is the leading expert on child sex abuse statutes of limitations and has submitted testimony and advised legislators in every state where significant reform has occurred.  She is the author of Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children (Cambridge University Press), which advocates for the elimination of child sex abuse statutes of limitations.  She has also filed countless pro bono amicus briefs for the protection of children at the United States Supreme Court and the state supreme courts.  Her textbook, Children and the Law, co-authored with Martin Gardner, will be published Fall 2017 by Carolina Academic Press, formerly Lexis/Nexis.

Hamilton clerked for United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Judge Edward R. Becker of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  

Hamilton has been honored with the 2016 Voice Today, Voice of Gratitude Award; the 2015 Religious Liberty Award, American Humanist Association; the 2014 Freethought Heroine Award; the National Crime Victim Bar Association’s Frank Carrington Champion of Civil Justice Award, 2012; the E. Nathaniel Gates Award for outstanding public advocacy and scholarship, 2008; and selected as a Pennsylvania Woman of the Year Award, 2012, among others.   She is also frequently quoted in the national media on RFRA, RLUIPA, First Amendment, clergy sex abuse, and statute of limitations issues.

Professor Hamilton is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, B.A., summa cum laude; Pennsylvania State University, M.A. (English, fiction writing, High Honors); M.A. (Philosophy); and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.   She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Order of the Coif.

Education
  • B.A., 1979, Vanderbilt University
  • M.A., 1982, 1984, Pennsylvania State University
  • J.D., 1988, University of Pennsylvania

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Upcoming Events
2017 National Student Symposium - "The First Amendment in Contemporary Society"
Columbia Law School - March 3-4, 2017
March 03, 2017
Publications and Multimedia
Federalism and Religious Liberty - Event Audio/Video
2016 Annual Western Chapters Conference
February 17, 2016
What Would the Framers Have Thought of Direct Democracy? - Event Audio/Video
Second Annual Western Conference
February 23, 2008
Religion, Early America and the Fourteenth Amendment - Event Audio/Video
2007 National Lawyers Convention
November 15, 2007