Mark Rienzi, a First Amendment scholar and a professor at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, has been named president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Considered by many the premier religious liberty firm in the country, Becket’s legal capacity has been praised by the Associated Press, TIME Magazine, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
“I am honored to get to work with and lead such a talented group of expert lawyers,” said Rienzi. He was previously senior counsel at Becket, where he has litigated religious liberty cases on behalf of people of a variety of faiths since 2011.
“We congratulate Mark on his appointment as president of the Becket Fund,” said University President and Becket board member John Garvey. “Given his track record, we know that he’ll continue to protect religious freedom for all, and do so with passion and a commitment to excellence.”
Rienzi and his colleagues at Becket have won a string of free speech and religious liberty cases at the Supreme Court, including Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC (2012), Little Sisters of the Poor v. Sebelius (2014), Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (2014), McCullen v. Coakley (2014), Wheaton College v. Burwell (2014), Holt v. Hobbs (2015), and Zubik v. Burwell (2016). The Becket team also has a long track record of winning religious liberty and speech cases in the federal appeals and state supreme courts, including on behalf of pro-life pregnancy centers, medical professionals who seek to practice their profession in accordance with religious beliefs, and others.
In 2014, Rienzi argued and won McCullen, a 9-0 victory protecting the rights of peaceful pro-life counselors and the women they help to engage in conversation on public sidewalks in Massachusetts. Prior to the victory at the Supreme Court, challengers to the Massachusetts law had been losing in the lower courts for 14 years.
Rienzi also serves as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, where he teaches a seminar on religious liberty and runs a religious liberty clinic with his colleagues at Becket each January. At Catholic University, Rienzi teaches constitutional law, religious liberty, and evidence. He has been voted Teacher of the Year three times by the University’s Student Bar Association.
Prior to joining Becket, Mark served as counsel for the litigation department and intellectual property litigation practice group of WilmerHale LLP. His practice focused on complex civil and appellate litigation with a particular emphasis on intellectual property and First Amendment issues. Prior to joining WilmerHale, 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. Rienzi, who served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review, earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School and B.A. from Princeton University, both with honors.
His academic writing focuses on the First and Fourteenth Amendments and has appeared in a variety of prestigious journals, including the Harvard Law Review. He has been quoted on constitutional law issues on NPR, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and other major publications. He has also been featured on NBC, Fox, CNN and other television networks.