Facebook pixel Pepperdine Caruso Law Hosts 2024 Nootbaar Fellows Workshop and Conference on “Charting the Future of Church and State” - Surf Report | Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Skip to main content
Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Pepperdine Caruso Law Hosts 2024 Nootbaar Fellows Workshop and Conference on “Charting the Future of Church and State”

On February 7-9, Pepperdine Caruso Law hosted the third annual Nootbaar Fellows Workshop and Conference, titled “Charting the Future of Church and State.” The series of events featured two former United States solicitors general, Noel J. Francisco and Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. as well as the Nootbaar Institute’s Fellows – internationally renowned church-state scholars. 

The conference commenced on February 7 with the program “Religious Liberty Salon: Celebrating the Hugh and Hazel Darling Foundation Religious Liberty Clinic.” Participants included Noel Francisco of Jones Day and 47th Solicitor General of the United States, Eric Rassbach, vice president and senior counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and Megan Lacy Owen of Jones Day. 

The conference continued on February 8 with three events, beginning with the Third Annual Nootbaar Fellows Workshop. The workshop featured the presentations:

  • Two Concepts of Judicial Deference to Religious Claims by Chagai Schlesinger
  • Usings and Removings (or Is Religion the New Race or Is Race the New Religion)? by Nomi Stolzenberg
  • History and the School Prayer Cases by Mark Storslee
  • Gendered Liberty by Laura Portuond
  • Disestablishing Work by James Nelson

Nootbaar Fellows Workshop 2024

The student-focused lunchtime event, “Open Conversation With Solicitor Generals of the United States Under Presidents Obama and Trump” featured Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. of Munger, Tolles & Olson and 46th Solicitor General of the United States, and Francisco, and was moderated by Caruso Law professor Victoria Schwartz. During the conversation Verrilli and Francisco discussed their most memorable moments in front of the Supreme Court and behind the scenes, how they evaluated calls for the view of the Solicitor General, the traditions and ethos of the Solicitor General’s Office, and their processes for preparing for Supreme Court arguments.

Verrilli and Francisco then answered questions posed by the audience, concluding with advice for students considering public interest law. Verrilli recommended students find jobs in local, state, and federal government at a young age in order to take on significant responsibility. Francisco advised students to spend the earliest part of their careers in jobs that teach them the tools of how to be a lawyer.

Don Verilli and Noel Francisco Nootbaar 2024

The final event of the day was a dinner and conversation, “Litigating Church and State from the Solicitor General's Office” with Verrilli and Francisco, and moderated by Caruso Law third-year student Eleanor Ritter. Francisco and Verrilli discussed the role of the Solicitor General’s Office in litigating challenging questions at the intersection of church and state. 

The conference concluded on February 9 with the Third Annual Nootbaar Fellows Conference on “Charting the Future of Church and State.” The program was an engaging series of panels comprising Nootbaar Fellows and addressing some of the most urgent church-state questions in the United States, including:

  • Religious Liberty and the Right to Abortion with Laura Portuondo, Frederick Gedicks, Jessie Hill, and Sherif Girgis.
  • The Future of Religious Exemptions with Stephanie Barclay, Christopher Lund, Zalman Rothschild, and Nelson Tebbe.
  • Government Funding of Religion with Alan Brownstein, Netta Barak-Corren, Nicholas P. Miller, and Jim Oleske.
  • What Happened to the Wall Separating Church and State? with Nathan Chapman, Audra Savage, Anna Su, and Victor Muniz-Fraticelli.

Nootbaar Conference panel 2024

Additional information on the conference participants may be found at 2024 Nootbaar Fellows Conference

The third annual Nootbaar Fellows Workshop and Conference was sponsored in part by Founders’ First Freedom, where Caruso Law alumnus Michael Peabody (JD ’01) serves as president.

The Herbert and Elinor Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics at Caruso Law was created to explore the nexus between these three disciplines, with particular emphasis on the intersection of faith and law. The institute encourages the examination of law as a theological vocation from the broad range of Christian, Jewish, and other religious perspectives represented in the law school's students, staff, and faculty.