FLORIDA - Defending religious liberty for all Americans, a new religious liberty law clinic at Stanford Law School in Florida would be established soon to support the free expression of religious beliefs regardless of the faith.
The point of a clinic is to teach professional skills to law students using real cases and live clients, the clinic's director James Sonne told the National Law Journal on Thursday, December 27.
The clinic was established with $1.6 million in seed funding from the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which supports the free expression of religious beliefs regardless of the faith.
Unlike many public interest law groups that support religious freedom, Stanford's clinic will take on clients from any religion.
Facing criticism over the nature of the new law clinic, Sonne confirmed that religious freedom extends to all people regardless of their particular religious beliefs.
Most cases will deal with the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and Title VII.
We think the religious liberty aspect offers a unique way to do this work, and it's something the students get excited about, Sonne added.
As our culture becomes more diverse, it's a great way for students to represent clients whose beliefs are different from their own
The clinic, which will launch after the school's winter break, has already enrolled 10 students.
Stanford is holding a launch event on January 14 that will feature speakers and legal scholars from a variety of different religious faiths.
Since 9/11, US Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.
According to federal data, a record number of Muslim workers are complaining from facing employment discrimination, with Muslims making up one-quarter of the 3,386 religious discrimination claims filed with the EEOC last year.
The rising number of Muslims facing discrimination exceeds even the amount filed in the year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Muslim workers filed a record 803 bias claims in the year ended Sept. 30, 2009. That was up 20 percent from the previous year and up nearly 60 percent from 2005.
Muslim rights groups also say they have received a surge in complaints recently, suggesting that 2010's figure will set another record.