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Robertson Center for Constitutional Law Celebrates Victory for Religious Liberty

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (June 22, 2021) – On June 17, 2021, the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in favor of Catholic Social Services in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. The same day, the Robertson Center for Constitutional Law also filed a brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Maxon v. Fuller Theological Seminary. June 17 was a monumental day for the Robertson Center for Constitutional Law and–more importantly–a monumental day for religious liberty in the United States.

“As these cases demonstrate, the center gives our students and faculty a platform to influence some of today’s most important matters of constitutional law,” stated Mark Martin, dean of Regent University School of Law. “We celebrate this work today and will continue our advocacy to preserve, protect, and uphold the Constitution of the United States.”

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a long-awaited decision concerning religious liberty on June 17. It came in the form of a unanimous 9-0 ruling in favor of Catholic Social Services and foster mothers Sharonell Fulton and Toni Simms-Busch in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. The Robertson Center filed an important brief in June 2020 in support of the prevailing parties. 

The Robertson Center’s brief argued that the Court should overrule Employment Division v. Smith, a 1990 case that eroded protections for the free exercise of religion. In December 2020, the Robertson Center built on that brief by publishing an article in the Regent University Law Review exploring developments since Smith was decided thirty years ago. Although the Court in Fulton stopped short of overruling Smith, Fulton was the first U.S. Supreme Court decision in which a majority of Supreme Court Justices agreed that Smith should be overruled.

“It was a heartening surprise to see every single Supreme Court Justice rule in favor of religious liberty,” said Brad Lingo, professor at Regent University School of Law and executive director of the Robertson Center for Constitutional Law. “It’s rewarding to know that our advocacy mattered in this case.”

The same day as the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the Robertson Center also filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Maxon v. Fuller Theological Seminary. In this case, the Robertson Center represented Campus Crusade for Christ, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Chi Alpha Ministries, and Young Life in defending the importance of the First Amendment’s rights of assembly and expressive association. 

The Robertson Center for Constitutional Law is an academic center within the Regent University School of Law. Established in 2020, the Center pairs advocacy and scholarship to advance first principles in constitutional law, including originalism, separation of powers, and religious liberty. The Robertson Center has represented former members of Congress, Christian ministries, and others in briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court and circuit courts of appeal. Learn more about the work of the Robertson Center at https://constitutionallaw.regent.edu/our-work/.

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About Regent University

Founded in 1978, Regent University is America’s premier Christian university with more than 11,000 students studying on its 70-acre campus in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and online around the world. The university offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in more than 150 areas of study including business, communication and the arts, counseling, cybersecurity, divinity, education, government, law, leadership, nursing, healthcare, and psychology. Regent University, ranked among top national universities (U.S. News & World Report, 2020), is one of only 23 universities nationally to receive an “A” rating for its comprehensive liberal arts core curriculum.

About Regent Law

Regent Law’s more than 3,300 graduates practice law in 49 states and over 20 countries and include 38 currently sitting judges. The School of Law is currently ranked 22nd in the nation for obtaining judicial clerkships and ranked 20th in the nation for Ultimate Bar Passage in 2019. The school offers the Juris Doctor (J.D.) in three-year and part-time formats, an online M.A. in Law, an online M.A. in Financial Planning & Law, an on-campus and online LL.M. in Human Rights, and an on-campus and online LL.M. in American Legal Studies.