Visiting Professor of Law
Mark Rienzi is a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and Professor of Law at the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law. He specializes in constitutional law, religious liberty, and the First Amendment.
Professor Rienzi has broad experience litigating First Amendment religious exercise and free speech cases. For the past five years, with his colleagues at Becket, he has led litigation concerning the religious liberty implications of the federal government’s HHS contraceptive mandate, including a string of victories: Little Sisters of the Poor v. Sebelius, 134 S. Ct. 1022 (2014); Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2751 (2014); Wheaton College v. Burwell, 134 S. Ct. 2806, and Zubik v. Burwell, 136 S. Ct. 1557 (2016). In 2015, with his colleagues at Becket and Professor Doug Laycock, he successfully represented a Muslim prison inmate seeking the right to grow a beard for religious reasons at the U.S. Supreme Court. The inmate’s claim had been rejected by the lower courts, but won a unanimous victory at the Supreme Court in Holt v. Hobbs, 135 S. Ct. 853 (2015). In 2014 Rienzi argued and won McCullen v. Coakley, 134 S.Ct. 2518 (2014), another 9-0 Supreme Court decision protecting the free speech rights of sidewalk counselors outside of Massachusetts abortion clinics after lower courts had repeatedly rejected their claim. Rienzi has also successfully represented pharmacists seeking the freedom to avoid selling the morning after and week after pills (e.g., Morr-Fitz v. Blagojevich, 901 N.E.3d 373 (Illinois, 2008); Morr-Fitz v. Quinn, 976 N.E.2d 1160 (Illinois, 2012)), and pro-life pregnancy counselors opposing government-imposed regulations of their speech (e.g., Centro Tepeyac v. Montgomery County, 5 F.Supp.3d 745 (D. Md., 2014)).
Professor Rienzi’s scholarship focuses on religious liberty and First Amendment issues. He has been published in a variety of prestigious law reviews, including the Harvard Law Review (“The Case For Religious Exemptions – Whether Religion is Special or Not,” 127 Harvard L. Rev. 1395 (2014)), Stanford Law Review (“Substantive Due Process As a Two-Way Street: How the Court Can Reconcile Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty,” 68 Stanford L. Rev. Online 18 (2015)), George Mason Law Review (“God and the Profits: Is There Religious Liberty for Moneymakers?” 21 Geo. Mason. Law Rev. 59 (2013)), Emory Law Journal (“The Constitutional Right Not to Kill.” 62 Emory Law Journal 101 (2012)), and Notre Dame Law Review (“The Constitutional Right Not to Participate in Abortions: Roe, Casey, and the Fourteenth Amendment Rights of Healthcare Providers,” 87 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1 (2011)). He has also been quoted on constitutional law issues in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Politico, AP, National Review, and many other publications. He has appeared on NPR, Fox, NBC, ABC, and other news outlets.
As a professor at the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law, Professor Rienzi teaches constitutional law, religious liberty, torts, and evidence. He has been voted Professor of the Year three times.