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The Center for Religious Liberty at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, is an academic center dedicated to the study and articulation of the Catholic approach to religious liberty as a fundamental human right for all persons, regardless of faith. This right is recognized by the United States Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Church's teaching in Dignitatis Humanae

The Center will aim to increase discussion and understanding of these issues by hosting speakers, organizing conferences, awarding writing prizes, providing educational programming, and commenting on religious liberty issues in the public square.

Center Research


In order for the Center to reach its aims, there is a need for professionals to join the discussion. There are also opportunities to assist in developing and in implementing educational programming. Further, the Center will be producing research and reports related to religious liberty.


The Center allows students with an interest in religious liberty to grow their research and writing skills, while helping to increase the visibility of this important issue. Further, students will work independently and in some cases work with experts to produce research and reports related to religious liberty. There are also opportunities for students to participate in educational programming. 

If you are interested in becoming involved with the Center, please contact Mark Rienzi at or William Saunders at

Center Leadership

Mark L. Rienzi is the Center's Director and a Professor of Law at Catholic University. He is also a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School where he teaches courses in religious liberty. In addition, Rienzi is the President of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, where he litigates religious freedom cases for people of all faiths. Click here to learn more about Mark Rienzi.

William L. Saunders Jr. is the Center's Co-Director and the Director of the Program in Human Rights, Institute for Human Ecology | Of Counsel | Americans United for Life | Chair of Religious Liberties Group of Federalist Society | President of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. Click here to learn more about William Saunders.


Center Fellows

J. Joel Alicea will work on special projects, including those related to understanding religious liberty from originalist as well as anthropological perspectives. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Click here to learn more about Joel Alicea. 

Ambassador Sam Brownback joined the Center as a Fellow in October 2021, having served as U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom from 2018-2021. The former Governor and Senator from Kansas will teach a course on international religious freedom in the Spring of 2022. Click here to learn more about Sam Brownback.