COVID, the Courts, and Religious Liberty

Because of the Covid pandemic, many jurisdictions have placed limits on religious worship. Protests that such limits infringe on the religious liberty guarantees of the First Amendment have reached the Supreme Court. What are the permissible limits on religious worship? How can we expect the Supreme Court to rule before its terms ends in June?

William Saunders, J.D., director of the IHE M.A. Program in Human Rights, and Mark Rienzi, president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, discuss the pandemic, religious liberty, and the courts for a Faith & Law Friday Forum.


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Mark Rienzi is Professor at The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, and President of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He teaches constitutional law, religious liberty, torts, and evidence. He has been voted Teacher of the Year three years in a row, and he is widely published, including in the Harvard Law Review. Mr. Rienzi is Director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Columbus School of Law. He has broad experience litigating First Amendment cases and represented the winning parties in a variety of Supreme Court First Amendment cases, including Hobby LobbyWheaton College, and Holt. Mr. Rienzi and his colleagues at Becket won several important religious liberty cases at the Supreme Court in the past year, including Our Lady of GuadalupeLittle Sisters of the Poor, and Agudath v. Cuomo.

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William Saunders, J.D., is the director of the IHE’s M.A. in Human Rights Program at the Catholic University of America. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School, who has been involved in issues of public policy, law and ethics for thirty years. A regular columnist for the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Mr. Saunders has written and spoken widely on these topics. Mr. Saunders works closely with Chinese dissident and CUA Distinguished Fellow, Chen Guangcheng, on human rights issues, and he is co-director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Columbus School of Law. His new book, Unborn Human Life and Fundamental Rights: Leading Constitutional Cases Under Scrutiny, was published in 2019.