J. Reuben Clark Law Society

Denver JRCLS Chapter Brings Together Members, Catholic Lawyers Guild, and Tenth Circuit Judge for Religious Liberty Discussion

In October 2014, the Denver Chapter of the JRCLS organized and hosted a lunch-time event to discuss recent developments in religious liberty law and, in particular, the Tenth Circuit and Supreme Court decisions in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores.  Speaking at the gathering was Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich, who drafted the Tenth Circuit opinion.  The JRCLS invited Catholic Lawyers Guild members to the event, and over 100 attorneys from private practice, in-house positions, and government posts attended.
Speaking to a standing-room only crowd in the Tenth Circuit’s historic en banc courtroom, Judge Tymkovich addressed the background of the Hobby Lobby decision and the Tenth Circuit’s reasoning.  He also addressed the Supreme Court’s affirmance and some of the key facts that led to it.  Hobby Lobby is a landmark decision in the realm of religious liberty law, allowing closely held for-profit corporations to be exempt from a law to which the owners object as a violation of their sincere religious beliefs if there is a less restrictive means of furthering the law's interest.  It is the first time that the Supreme Court has recognized a for-profit corporation's claim of religious belief, but it is limited to closely held corporations.  The decision is an interpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and does not address whether such corporations are protected by the free-exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution
After the Judge’s remarks and a brief question-and-answer period, attendees adjourned to the wing of the building dedicated to Tenth Circuit history, which the Tenth Circuit Historical Society maintains.  There, they enjoyed networking and lunch. 

By Steve Collis

Posted: January 20, 2015