Center for Law and Religion Hosts Conversation on SCOTUS Religion Cases


On January 25, 2023, St. John’s Center for Law and Religion hosted Law and Religion at the Supreme Court: New Directions, a conversation with Hon. Richard Sullivan (Second Circuit) and Hon. Rachel Kovner (EDNY), at the New York Athletic Club. Center Co-Directors Marc DeGirolami and Mark Movsesian facilitated the discussion about recent U.S. Supreme Court cases on the Establishment, Free Exercise, and Free Speech Clauses, and St. John’s Law students in the audience had a chance to ask the judges questions.

One focal point of the conversation was Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, in which the Supreme Court abandoned the Lemon Test and replaced it with a new “history and tradition” test. The judges also discussed Carson v. Makin, a school funding case from last term, and two upcoming cases that the Court is considering this term, 303Creative LLC v. Elenis and Groff v. DeJoy.

“Judge Sullivan’s and Judge Kovner’s discussion of the current Court’s approach to law and religion was as fascinating as it was accessible,” says Patrick McKelvey ‘24, a Center for Law and Religion Student Fellow. Another Fellow, Fotini Mamos ’23 agrees, adding, “I especially enjoyed listening to the judges discuss the Court’s abandonment of the Lemon test in Bremerton. I was surprised by Bremerton, and it was very interesting to hear two federal judges speak on the matter.”

The event was also a standout for Professor DeGirolami, who shares: “It was wonderful to get the perspective and insight from these two judges, who have become good friends of the Center. There are significant changes to the way that the Supreme Court is thinking about these cases, and the judges were thoughtful about how those changes are likely to develop and will affect their own work.”

About the Center for Law and Religion
Established in 2010, the Center for Law and Religion at St. John’s Law provides a forum for studying law and religion from domestic, international, and comparative perspectives with the aim of:

  • Examining the role of law in the relationship between religion and the state
  • Exploring the concept of law in different religious traditions
  • Promoting St. John’s Vincentian mission by encouraging an open dialogue on law and religion in the local, national, and international communities

In addition to hosting academic programs locally and around the world, the Center coordinates the Law School’s law and religion curriculum. It also hosts the Law and Religion Forum, a blog about recent law and religion scholarship and news, and Legal Spirits, a podcast series on law and religion issues in the courts.