Center for Religious Liberty

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.

 

Criminal Justice Reform Initiative

With more than two million adults and children behind bars, the United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Mass incarceration has not impacted all Americans equally – instead it has had a drastically disproportionate impact on poor, minority communities. Eighty percent of people accused of a crime are poor, and while they are entitled to a lawyer under well-established Supreme Court precedent, too often they face loss of liberty without one. Access to justice in the world’s leading democracy remains aspirational.

Through the inspiration and leadership of Professor Cara Drinan, the Law School will embark upon an access to justice pilot program designed to document the lack of effective representation for poor criminal defendants in the United States. The pilot will involve fieldwork and research regarding public defender caseloads and the related dynamic of “no counsel courts,” where individuals entitled to a lawyer nonetheless face loss of liberty without one. The Law School has received in excess of $250,000 to fully fund the pilot project and seeks philanthropic partners to further its access to justice initiative.