Tuesday, May 24, 2016

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Catholic Education Daily


Law Students Get Experience Defending Religious Freedom at Univ. of St. Thomas (Minn.)

Professor Thomas Berg of the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, Minn., created a Religious Liberty Appellate Clinic offering several law students each year the opportunity to draft briefs in important religious freedom cases, according to the Mirror of Justice website.

The Clinic, according to the University’s website, focuses on writing “friend of the court” appellate briefs in significant religious freedom cases as well as learning theory, strategy, and practice for protecting religious freedom.

Two students in the clinic wrapped up their first semester by submitting briefs to the federal courts of appeals for the Sixth and Seventh Circuits.

The briefs were filed on behalf of several groups including the Christian Legal Society, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference ,the Southern Baptist Convention and the General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists.

Law student Julie Cayemberg filed a brief in the Freedom from Religion Foundation v. Lew case in defense of the 60-year old “parsonage allowance,” which offers the ability of churches to provide tax exempt homes for their ministers.

She reportedly said that drafting the brief “was more difficult...and more rewarding than I ever imagined and one of the best experiences of law school thus far.”

Nicole Swisher, a third year law student, filed a brief in the Child Evangelism Fellowship v. Cleveland School District case, arguing that a public school cannot charge a fee to a Christian youth organization for access to school facilities when they don’t charge other organizations.

Swisher said the clinic offered her the opportunity to “learn a lot about formulating and writing compelling arguments.”

Berg said he was “really proud of the work the first two students have done.”

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