Scholars & Leaders

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PROF. MARCI HAMILTON, CEO AND ACADEMIC DIRECTOR

MARCI A. HAMILTON is the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program Professor of Practice,  and Fox Family Pavilion Resident Senior Fellow in theProgram for Research on Religion at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the founder, CEO, and Academic Director of CHILD USA, www.childusa.org, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit academic think tank at the University of Pennsylvania dedicated to interdisciplinary, evidence-based research to stop child abuse and neglect.   Before moving to the University of Pennsylvania, Professor Hamilton was the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University.

Hamilton is the leading expert on child sex abuse statutes of limitations and has submitted testimony, expert information, and advice to legislators in every state where significant reform has occurred.  She is the author of Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children(Cambridge University Press), which advocates for the elimination of child sex abuse statutes of limitations.  She has filed countless pro bono amicus briefs for the protection of children at the United States Supreme Court and the state supreme courts.  Her textbook, Children and the Law, co-authored with Martin Gardner, will be published Fall 2017 by Carolina Academic Press, formerly Lexis/Nexis.

Hamilton has been a vocal and influential critic of extreme religious liberty, advocating for the vulnerable about overreaching.  Hamilton successfully challenged the constitutionality of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) at the Supreme Court in Boerne v. Flores(1997), and defeated the RFRA claim brought by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee against hundreds of child sex abuse survivors in Committee of Unsecured Creditors v. Listecki (7thCir. 2015).  She has represented numerous cities dealing with church-state issues as well as claims brought under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA").   The author of God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty(Cambridge University Press), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, she is also a columnist for Verdict on Justia.com.  

Hamilton has been honored with the 2018 Pennsylvania State University Department of Philosophy Distinguished Alumni Award, the 2017 University of Pennsylvania Law School Louis H. Pollak Public Service Award, the 2016 Voice Today, Voice of Gratitude Award; the 2015 Religious Liberty Award, American Humanist Association; the 2014 Freethought Heroine Award; the National Crime Victim Bar Association’s Frank Carrington Champion of Civil Justice Award, 2012; the E. Nathaniel Gates Award for outstanding public advocacy and scholarship, 2008; and selected as a Pennsylvania Woman of the Year Award, 2012, among others.   She is also frequently quoted in the national media as an expert on stopping child abuse and neglect, statute of limitations, constitutional, RFRA, RLUIPA, and First Amendment issues.

Hamilton clerked for United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Judge Edward R. Becker of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  Professor Hamilton is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, B.A., summa cum laude; Pennsylvania State University, M.A. (English, fiction writing, High Honors); M.A. (Philosophy); and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the University of PennsylvaniaLaw Review.   She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Order of the Coif. 


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Dr. Steven Berkowitz, Advisor

Dr. Berkowitz is a leading national expert on child trauma. He is the Director of the Center for Youth and Family Traumatic Stress Recovery, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and an Associate Professor at the Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine. He is co-author of “The Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention: Secondary Prevention for Youth At Risk of Developing PTSD,” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, June 2011; 52 (6): 676-85, along with many other publications and has received numerous high-level grants for the study of trauma and its effects on children and families.


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Dr. Paul Offit, Advisor

Dr. Offit is a leading national expert on vaccines, infectious diseases and medical neglect. He is the Director of the Vaccine Education Center, Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP). He is a member of the Board of Directors of CHOP, and the author of Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine (Basic Books, 2015).


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Dr. Leslie C. Griffin, Director of Amicus Advocacy

Dr. Griffin is the author of Law and Religion: Cases and Materials, now in its fourth edition (2017) with Foundation Press.  She has long used her training in Law and Religious Studies to advocate rights in religious institutions for women, men, children, the disabled, and LGBTQs. She is also co-author of Practicing Bioethics Law (2015), and uses that training to advocate for full health coverage for everyone, without any religious discrimination.  Griffin has written numerous briefs defending employees’ religious freedom. She will be directing CHILD USA’s Amicus Advocacy Project so that our commitment to civil rights as well as stopping child abuse is heard in courts throughout the country.  

Griffin, a prolific scholar and expert on on religion, bioethics, and constitutional law, received her B.A. summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame, her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University, and her J.D. from Stanford Law School.