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Stanford Launches Only Religious Liberty Law School Clinic

New clinic will allow law students to represent clients whose cases pertain to religious freedom.

Update Jan. 22: The New York Timestakes a closer look at the new clinic, noting that it will focus on free expression of religion and avoid challenging government endorsements of faith. Notable church-state names, including Michael W. McConnell, Doug Laycock, Stephen L. Carter, and Thomas Farr, praised the clinic, according to the NYT.

Thanks to a donation from The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Stanford Law School has announced that it will begin offering a new religious liberty clinic–"the only clinic of its kind in the country."

The new Religious Liberty Clinicwill be part of Stanford's existing Mills Legal Clinic, an in-house group that operates as a single law firm. The Religious Liberty clinic will "allow students to defend cases involving disputes regarding religious beliefs and practices under the tutelage of participating professors with expertise in the field of religious freedom," Stanford Dailyreports.

The John Templeton Foundation contributed $1.6 million to the clinic's launch, which was "funneled through the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty," according to the New York Times.

Mark Movsesian, director of the Center for Law and Religion at St. John's University, noted in a blog post that the move by Stanford appears to be "a serious play to become a leader in law and religion studies in the United States."

Movsesian also interviewed Religious Liberty Clinic director Jim Sonne last month. Sonne said the Clinic plans to take cases "involving a variety of claims, including those under the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (or its state-law equivalent), the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and Title VII."

CT has regularly reported on religious freedom, church and state, and courts.

Editor's Note: This blog has been corrected to reflect that the John Templeton Foundation funded the project. We apologize for the error.

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Posted:January 18, 2013 at 11:17AM
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Stanford Launches Only Religious Liberty Law School Clinic