May 05, 2017

Associate Professor of Law Mark Rienzi and his clients, the Little Sisters of the Poor, were recognized May 4 in a ceremony at the White House, where President Donald Trump signed an executive order protecting religious liberty.

The event marked the commemoration of National Prayer Day. During the ceremony, Trump called the sisters up to the dais in the Rose Garden and told them that their long lawsuit against the federal government was nearly over.

When he asked the sisters about their lawyers, they told him they were “excellent, the best.” With that, Trump asked Rienzi to stand while he was applauded. Rienzi represents the Little Sisters with his colleagues at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty,  a nonprofit firm that focuses on religious liberty, who helped the nuns gain a key exemption from the Affordable Care Act.

Rienzi said that the the Little Sisters are delighted with Trump’s promise to put an end to their lawsuit. Rienzi said the event was a wonderful surprise and "the kind of wild, unforgettable thing that just happens when you hang out with the Little Sisters of the Poor."

Rienzi teaches constitutional law, religious liberty, torts, and evidence. His litigation and research interests focus on the First and Fourteenth amendments, with an emphasis on free speech and the free exercise of religion.

As a litigator, Rienzi has represented a range of parties asserting First Amendment claims in courts across the country. Rienzi is also senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, where he has successfully represented a variety of parties at the Supreme Court including in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Sebelius (emergency order, 2014); Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014); Wheaton College v. Burwell (emergency order, 2014); and Holt v. Hobbs (2015).

Prior to joining Catholic University, Rienzi served as counsel in the Supreme Court and Appellate Practice Group at Wilmer Hale LLP. Prior to joining Wilmer Hale, he served as law clerk to the Hon. Stephen F. Williams, senior circuit judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

MEDIA: To arrange an interview with Rienzi, contact the Office of Marketing and Communications at or 202-319-5600.

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