2014 Constitutional Symposium on Religious Freedom

The Importance of Religious Freedom and Hope for the Years Ahead

Opening Panel: The Importance of Religious Freedom to America's Past, Present, and Future

  • Religious Freedom and The Bill of Rights: Remembering the Importance of Our Nation's First Freedom | U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
  • Religion in Public Life: The Supreme Court, School Prayer, and Secularism in Modern America | Dr. Sally Gordon, Professor of Constitutional Law and History, University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • The Prophet and the POTUS: Religious Freedom and the Mormons—Who, Where, When and How? | Dr. Jan Shipps, Professor emeritus of History and Religious Studies at IUPUI

Distinguished Judicial Lecture

  • The Religion Clauses of the Constitution in a Secular Age | Judge Thomas Griffith, Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, former Assistant to the President and General Counsel of Brigham Young University, and former Senate Legal Counsel of the United States, the chief legal officer of the United States Senate

“Do you get the sense that understanding the Constitution may involve more than casual reading? For many of us, that poses a problem, because careful reading is hard work. Important texts deserve careful and close reads. When we engage in that type of study, we learn things about the texts meaning that don’t yield themselves to casual reading… The serious study of the constitution is a lifelong endeavor.”

“There can be a danger in invoking an ultimate authority, like the constitution, in support of an argument. If we are not careful, we may lose sight of one of the most important civic virtues, humility. But we must carry on our arguments with the realization that those with whom we disagree are not our enemies, rather, they are our colleagues in a great enterprise."

CCS Student Lecture

  • A View from the Sidelines: A Spouse's Perspective on the Life of a Federal Judge | Susan Griffith

Keynote Address: Hope for the Years Ahead

A graduate of Brigham Young University and of the University of Chicago Law School, Elder Oaks has been an officer or member of the board of many business, educational, and charitable organizations. He is also the author or co-author of many books and articles on religious and legal subjects. In May 2013, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty awarded Elder Oaks the Canterbury Medal for "courage in the defense of religious liberty." Elder Oaks is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is a former law clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court, Judge of the Utah Supreme Court, lawyer at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, and Professor of Law at the University of Chicago.

Prior to his Keynote Address, Elder Oaks received the Center for Constitutional Studies' highest award of Honorary Fellow.

View a Transcript of the Address.