Symposium on McCullen v. Coakley

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The Law School will host a special symposium on Friday, October 17 at 1:30pm in Room 101 on the US Supreme Court’s decision last term in McCullen v. Coakley, unanimously striking down on First Amendment grounds a Massachusetts abortion clinic buffer zone statute. The lead plaintiff in the case, Eleanor McCullen, will participate and will be in attendance along with her husband, Joseph T. McCullen, Jr., a Villanova alumnus and benefactor. Also participating will be the attorney who represented Mrs. McCullen before the Supreme Court.

Eleanor McCullen is a pro-life activist and sidewalk counselor. For the past 14 years, she has stood on public sidewalks near abortion clinics in Massachusetts, initiating one-on-one, consensual conversations with women about alternatives to abortion. Mrs. McCullen is a parishioner and lector at St. Ignatius Church at Boston College and a Third Order Franciscan. 

Other confirmed participants include:

Gregory P. Magarian
Professor of Law, Washington University School of Law

Professor Gregory Magarian is an expert in free speech, the law of politics, and law and religion. Before joining the law faculty at Washington University, he was on the faculty of Villanova University School of Law from 1999 to 2008. He has written about a variety of topics in constitutional law, including free speech theory and doctrine, media regulation, regulation of political parties, the relationship between church and state, and substantive due process. As part of an ABA project, he led a team of faculty examining the work of Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan during the nomination process. Before becoming a law professor, he clerked for US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, as well as for Judge Louis Oberdorfer of the US District Court for the District of Columbia. Professor Magarian also practiced law for five years with the Washington, DC firm of Jenner & Block. He earned his BA from Yale University and his JD and MPP from the University of Michigan.

Mark L. Rienzi
Counsel for Eleanor McCullen

Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and Associate Professor of Law, The Catholic University of America

Professor Mark Rienzi's litigation and research interests focus on the First and Fourteenth Amendments, with an emphasis on free speech and the free exercise of religion. As Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (a non-profit, non-partisan religious liberties law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious faiths), Professor Rienzi is counsel in several challenges to the HHS Mandate. Prior to joining CUA, Professor Rienzi served as counsel in the Supreme Court and Appellate Practice Group at Wilmer Hale LLP in Washington, DC.  Prior to joining Wilmer Hale, he served as law clerk to the Hon. Stephen F. Williams, senior circuit judge for the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. He earned his JD from Harvard Law School and BA from Princeton University.


Carrie Severino
Chief Counsel and Policy Director, Judicial Crisis Network

As chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, Carrie Severino has testified before Congress on assorted constitutional issues and briefed Senators on judicial nominations. Mrs. Severino has been extensively quoted in the media and regularly appeared on television, including MSNBC, FOX, CNN, C-SPAN and ABC’s This Week. She has written and spoken on a wide range of judicial issues, particularly the constitutional limits on government, the federal nomination process, and state judicial selection. Mrs. Severino regularly files briefs in high-profile Supreme Court cases. In the 2013 term those cases included Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, McCullen v. Coakley, and Schuette v. BAMN. Until March 2010, Mrs. Severino was an Olin/Searle Fellow and a Dean's Visiting Scholar at Georgetown University Law Center. She was previously a law clerk to US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and to Judge David B. Sentelle of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. She received a BS from Duke University, an MA in Linguistics from Michigan State University, and a JD from Harvard Law School.


Kevin C. Walsh
Associate Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law

Professor Kevin Walsh teaches and writes in the areas of federal jurisdiction and constitutional law. His scholarship focuses on doctrines that define the scope of federal judicial power, and has appeared in the Stanford Law Review, New York University Law Review, and Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly. Prior to joining the Richmond Law faculty in 2009, Professor Walsh was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Villanova University School of Law. He earned his AB from Dartmouth College, his MA in Theology from the University of Notre Dame, and his JD from Harvard Law School. He clerked for Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court of the United States and for Judge Paul V. Niemeyer of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.