J. Reuben Clark Law Society

11th Annual Orange County Religion & the Law Symposium


The Eleventh Annual Orange County Religion & the Law Symposium was held at Chapman University, Dale E. Fowler School of Law in Orange, California, on March 26, 2015.  The featured speaker was Hannah C. Smith, Senior Counsel at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who spoke on the subject of “More Than a Hobby: Defending Religious Liberty at the U.S. Supreme Court in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.” (Pictured at right Jeff Shields, Hannah Smith, Rick Varner)

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society, Orange County Chapter, sponsored this annual event, along with co-sponsors: Chapman University, Dale E. Fowler School of Law; the Los Angeles and Orange County chapters of the Christian Legal Society; the Orange County Lawyers’ Chapter of the Federalist Society; the Orange County Jewish Bar Association; the Pepperdine University Herbert & Elinor Nootbaar Institute of Law, Religion and Ethics; the Pepperdine University School of Law; the St. Thomas More Society of Orange County; Trinity Law School; the University of La Verne College of Law; Western State College of Law; and Whittier Law School.

During her presentation, Hannah took those in attendance inside the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case with an engaging multi-media presentation. Attendees relived the evolution of the case through Hannah’s presentation of video news clips in which Hannah was interviewed during different stages of the case.

Hannah explained that, ultimately, in a 5-4 opinion, the Supreme Court held that family-owned for-profit businesses like Hobby Lobby do enjoy religious liberty rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and that the federal government’s HHS mandate violated the Act. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 573 U.S. __, 134 S. Ct. 2751, 189 L.ED.2d 675 (June 30, 2014).

Hannah shared her deep respect for her clients, the devoted owners of Hobby Lobby, David & Barbara Green. It was clear that the Greens felt there was a divine purpose in their legal battle, and that it was their strong faith in God that gave them the courage to fight to preserve their religious liberties while running their family-owned business.

Jeff Shields, an Orange County attorney and chairman of the event stated, “Those attending the Symposium were well-rewarded with Hannah’s illuminating and inspirational presentation about religious liberty.”

There were approximately 150 in attendance at the Symposium from a wide variety of backgrounds, including judges, attorneys, professors, religious and community leaders, students and more.

Prior to joining The Becket Fund, Hannah became one of the rare group of attorneys who have twice clerked at the U.S. Supreme Court; in her case for both Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. Hannah currently serves on the International Board of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society as a member of its Religious Freedom Subcommittee. Hannah also sits on the Deseret News Editorial Advisory Board, and regularly writes a column on religious liberty issues for the Deseret News.  Hannah and her husband have 4 children.

By Desiree Nordstrom, Founder and CEO of Overflow Legal Network LLC


Posted: May 5, 2015

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