MARCI A. HAMILTON is a Professor of Practice in the Department of Political Science and Fox Family Pavilion Non-resident Senior Fellow in the Program for Research on Religion at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the Founder and CEO of CHILD USA, www.childusa.org, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit think tank that pairs cutting-edge legal analysis with original social science research to improve laws and policies related to child abuse and neglect. Before joining the faculty at Penn, Professor Hamilton held the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University.
Prof. Hamilton is the leading expert on clergy sex abuse and child sex abuse statutes of limitation (“SOL”). She has been invited to testify and advise legislators in every state where significant SOL reform has occurred. Hamilton is also the co-chair of the Global SOL Reform Task Force, where she is leading the effort to create a global dashboard with the SOLs of every country to support the grassroots movement worldwide. She is the author of Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children (Cambridge University Press 2008), 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. She is the co-author of Children and the Law (Carolina Academic Press 2017) and Learning Constitutional Law (Cognella Academic Press 2022).
Hamilton is a leading and influential critic of extreme religious liberty and the author of God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty (Cambridge University Press 2014), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. 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 (7th Cir. 2015). She has represented numerous cities, neighborhoods, and individuals dealing with church-state issues as well as claims under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”).
Hamilton has been honored with the 2019 Distinguished Daughters Award by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf; the 2018 Louis H. Pollak Award for Public Service by the University of Pennsylvania Law School; the 2015 Annual Religious Liberty Award, American Humanist Association; the 2014 Freethought Heroine Award; the 2016 Voice Today, Voice of Gratitude 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 other awards and honors. She is also frequently quoted in the national media on child sex abuse, statute of limitations issues, and 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 Pennsylvania Law Review. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Order of the Coif.