Marci Hamilton is the Paul R. Verkuil Chair of Public Law at the Benjamin L. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York City, and a widely regarded scholar in constitutional law. She is an expert on, and advocate for the U.S. Constitution’s required separation of church and state.
Her book, God vs. The Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty, teaches us about the First Amendment, it’s history, it’s effects of promoting the greatest good for greatest number of people, and how it is being co-opted by extreme religious concerns in ways that can be very harmful to others through the Federal and State legislative passage of Religious Freedom Restoration Acts.
She cites incidents of polygamy, child abusing clergy and parents denying their children life-saving medical care as examples of harmful religious actions hiding behind supposed religious liberty.
As a religious person herself, she says religious belief and harm caused by belief, are separate things and protecting those who do harm in the name of religion is a dangerous trend in interpretation of constitutional law.
When Dr. Hamilton is not teaching and arguing cases before the Supreme court she promotes adequate protection for minors, individuals and landowners. Professor Hamilton has been honored as one of Pennsylvania’s Women of the Year; received the National Crime Victim Bar Association’s Frank Carrington Champion of Civil Justice Award; the E. Nathaniel Gates Award for outstanding public advocacy and scholarship; and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Pro Bono Legal Service to veterans groups. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. To learn more about Dr. Marci Hamilton and her book, God vs. The Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty, go to http://www.cardozo.yu.edu/directory/marci-hamilton