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NW HILLSBOROUGH - the bad legal effects of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

  • Mar 8, 2014 · 1:30 PM
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Center for Inquiry’s Legal Director, Nicholas Little will speak in Tampa about the effects of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1994, and the legal actions CFI has taken and will take in defending secularism. Do you know what the religious right and the government are doing to undermine separation of church and state? Might you take an interest in defending your beliefs from ongoing diminishment? Find out!

Nick Little’s likely focus would be RFRA - the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1994 because it seems to be where the big legal battles are these days and isn't rehashing the school prayer arguments.  In short, what was passed unanimously by the Senate, with major backing from Progressive groups like Americans United and ACLU, as a protection for religious groups from unfair attacks by the government has become what some people always thought it would be - a sword for religious groups to smack the bejeezus out of other people.  It was the basis of the Contraception Mandate brief we wrote, as well as many other suits right now.

Nick Little is the Legal Director at the Center for Inquiry, based out of the Washington D.C. office.  Prior to working for CFI, Nick was an attorney with the D.C. based law firm Howrey, LLP, specializing in international and domestic antitrust matters.  Since college, Nick has been involved with both organized party and issue based political and social activism.

As both an undergraduate and doctoral student at the University of Oxford, Nick became closely involved with the British Labour Party, becoming a branch officer.  Disappointment with the strictures and compromises that came with party political activism, Nick moved away from a purely political career, and focused instead on issue based activism, in the areas of international human rights and LGBT rights. 

After moving to the United States, Nick worked in the finance industry in Philadelphia.  In the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, Nick returned to education full time, and winning a scholarship to Vanderbilt University Law School.  At that institution, he focused on Constitutional Law, and, coming from a country with an established church, took particular interest in the role of the First Amendment and the interplay between religion and politics in the United States.

Upon graduation, Nick worked in DC representing Fortune 500 companies in antitrust matters, often involving investigations by the United States or foreign governments.  Throughout his 6 years with the firm, Nick maintained a strong commitment to his pro bono practice.  Among many other pro bono matters, Nick successfully represented an apostate from the Middle East, who faced deportation to and execution in his native Sudan for the crime of converting away from Islam, winning him asylum in the United States.  He also worked with mentally ill New Yorkers to ensure adequate provision of state resources enabling patients to leave institutions and safely and productively live in the community; represented hearing disabled citizens in their efforts to ensure local hospitals provided sign language interpreters as required by the Americans With Disabilities Act; and represented individuals in complaints of malpractice against the D.C. Metropolitan Police.

When his law firm closed, Nick took the opportunity to focus his legal attention on the constitutional area and joined CFI.  As well as working on CFI’s internal legal matters, Nick has worked alone and with others in the secular community to seek to preserve a strong level of separation of Church and State.  Recently Nick wrote an amicus brief for the Supreme Court defending the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act, and is working with local counsel in Florida on a case seeking to enforce that state’s constitutional ban on spending tax payer revenues on clearly sectarian, religion based, half-way houses for released prisoners.  CFI’s legal department is currently considering involvement in cases regarding many different matters, including further litigation regarding the Affordable Care Act, the attacks on reproductive rights of women in many states, same sex marriage and LGBTQ rights, end of life and euthanasia matters, and the regulation of homeopathic and other pseudo medications.  Nick is always seeking cases in which CFI can involve itself, either as an amicus in an existing matter, or directly representing a plaintiff. 

March 8, 1:30-3:00, in the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Public Library, 11211 Countryway Blvd. ,  Tampa, FL[masked]
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We have room for up to 30 folks, maybe more.

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  • marios

    Wonderful speaker, balanced outcome explaining the parts of constitution.

    March 9, 2014

  • Rick O.

    Excellent speaker - info was just right & well received; intelligent Q&A.

    2 · March 8, 2014

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