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Supreme Court Win Streak Continues for Professor Mark Rienzi


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The United States Supreme Court has issued favorable rulings in all five of the cases before it that drew the involvement of Catholic University law school Professor Mark Rienzi. Two of them were relatively rare unanimous decisions.   

The latest came on Jan. 20 with its 9-0 decision in Holt v. Hobbs, in which the Court found unconstitutional an Arkansas policy that forbid beards grown for religious reasons by prisoners incarcerated by the state.
Rienzi is a senior counsel for the Virginia-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which successfully represented plaintiff Abdul Muhammad in the case. The Becket Fund is a public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions, and has accounted for much of Rienzi’s involvement in issues that have been aired before the nation’s highest court.
The Becket Fund’s guiding legal philosophy is one fully shared by Rienzi: Government doesn’t get a free pass to ride roughshod over religious practices. All of the cases he has advocated before the Court, either as lead or associate counsel, have dealt with how far the government may intrude into religious practices or beliefs.
Remarkably, Rienzi’s five-case winning record before the Court began barely a year ago, when he filed an emergency petition on Dec. 31, 2013, on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor in its legal action against HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a case in which the Little Sisters wound up victorious.  
Since then, he presented oral arguments in McCullen v.Coakley; and was counsel for Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.; and Wheaton College v. Burwell.