(Stanford News) Stanford law students gained a new opportunity to explore fundamental human rights Monday when the Law School formally opened its Religious Liberty Clinic, the only one of its kind in the country.
It is sponsored by a $1.6 million donation from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
Law students in Stanford’s clinics work as lawyers with real clients and real cases, under the supervision of an attorney. James Sonne, the director of the Religious Liberty Clinic, joined the Stanford law faculty in 2012 after teaching at Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Fla. His own litigation experience includes church property disputes and cases concerning faith-based universities.
The clinic’s docket is already filling up.
This quarter, students will defend a prisoner who recently converted to Judaism and was denied a circumcision by the prison. They’ll also file an informational brief in a case regarding Native American religious practices by prisoners.
Upcoming cases involve land use issues surrounding the building of a mosque, religious outreach to the homeless and the firings of Seventh-day Adventists who refused to work on Saturdays.
The cases represent a wide variety of religions, Sonne said.
“We’re trying to show that religious liberty is a universal human right shared by everyone regardless of your religious belief, practice or background,” he said.
Sonne declined to name any case as the most controversial. [More]