Wilkes University


Religion and Public Policy is Focus of Feb. 27 Lecture at Wilkes University

Religion and public policy will be the focus when the lecture, “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Culture Wars and Where We Go from Here” is presented on Tues., Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at Wilkes University. The lecture will be delivered by Marci A. Hamilton, one of the United States’ leading church and state scholars and a Fox Family Pavilion Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania. The event will take place in the Ballroom of the Henry Student Center, 84 W. South St., Wilkes-Barre and is free and open to the public. The lecture is sponsored by Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, and the Wilkes University political science department.

Hamilton successfully challenged the constitutionality of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act at the Supreme Court in Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997), and is considered the foremost national scholar and advocate for the victims of extreme religious liberty. Hamilton has also 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. She is frequently quoted in the national media on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Religious Land Use And Institutionalized Persons Act, First Amendment, clergy sex abuse and statute of limitations issues.

Hamilton has submitted testimony and advised legislators in every state where significant reform has occurred. She hosts www.sol-reform.com, a web site which tracks and provides analysis about the statute of limitations on child sex abuse to identify hidden predators and increase access to justice movement. She has filed countless pro bono amicus briefs for the protection of children at the United States Supreme Court and in other courts. She also has represented survivors across the United States.

Hamilton is currently the academic director and president of CHILD USA, a nonprofit dedicated to interdisciplinary evidence-based research and tracking of medical, legal, and psychological developments to prevent and deter child abuse and neglect, which she co-leads with Steven Berkowitz, of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, and Paul Offit of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Hamilton is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, where she served as editor-in-chief of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. She 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 was selected as a Pennsylvania Woman of the Year Award, 2012.