Studying religion along constitutional and political lenses is my primary research interest. The right to practice one’s religion (or no religion) freely is a fundamental right for all people. It’s at the heart of personal expression of one’s beliefs and necessary to protect. Analyzing different approaches to religious liberty across the world yields important lessons on protecting religious freedom while raising questions on what that exactly entails. Moreover, studying religion’s role in politics provides significant insights on the separation between church and state. Below are experiences from my coursework and extracurricular activities that have helped me develop my understanding on these topics.
Notre Dame Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government
Menard Family Tocqueville Fellow (Spring 2020 – Present)
This competitive fellowship is aimed at preparing Notre Dame students for constitutional inquiries about religious liberty. The Tocqueville Fellowship has been integral to my development at Notre Dame as an opportunity to pursue my interest in constitutional inquiry, especially on matters of free speech and religious liberty. The ability to interact with distinguished scholars, have access to funding and other resources, and being a member of a dedicated group of students has been a monumental experience. The exposure to different viewpoints has been a worthwhile experience, as I learn to build bridges and dialogue with different groups.
Notre Dame Political Science Department
Undergraduate Research Assistant (Sep 2021 – Dec 2021)
I aided Dr. Vincent Muñoz update his casebook on church-state First Amendment law, Religious Liberty and the American Supreme Court. I reviewed existing cases against original Supreme Court opinions, edited church-state Supreme Court opinions for inclusion in the casebook, and gained insight on constitutional law and religious liberty issues.
Below and to the right are a selection of courses I’ve taken that have particularly aided in my understanding of the relationship between religion, the law, and politics. This was done either through course content or my work submitted for the class. For more information on a specific project, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Research Design (Spring 2022)
This course assisted me prepare for my senior thesis by teaching about the process, methodology, and writing involved in research. Through the class, I was able to further discern my interest in religion and politics through reading, writing, and presentations. My final paper encompassed a preview of my senior thesis for political science, containing items such as a literature review, methodology, and other parts.
Southern Politics (Fall 2021)
This course offered an examination of the American South’s political development, particularly along a racial lens. My term paper investigated the role of Judaism in Jon Ossoff’s successful 2020 campaign for U.S. Senate in Georgia. Ossoff was the first Jew since 1974 to win a statewide office in the South and an analysis of his campaign provided insight on how minority religions may find political success in the South.
Education Law and Policy (Fall 2021)
Although this course encompassed a number of constitutional issues regarding education in the United States, I was able to write a disputation of the Lemon test in Edwards v. Aguillard (1986) as a discussion of the First Amendment’s establishment clause. I also improved my legal research, analysis, and case writing skills.
Religion in American Politics (Spring 2021)
This course offered an extensive analysis of the way politics influences religion in the United States by investigating the political behavior of different religious groups. As part of the course, I wrote two extensive papers. The first analyzed the reception of atheists among Americans and an atheist’s electoral chances. The second explored Jews’ political behavior, particularly in explaining why Jews have remained in the Democratic coalition since the 1930s.
Constitutionalism, Law, and Politics (Fall 2020)
As an introduction to constitutional theory, this course enabled me to explore different approaches to religious liberty from a constitutional perspective. In particular, I wrote many papers examining religious liberty based on the writings of Alexander de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and John Rawls’s Theory of Justice and Political Liberalism.
Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal
Research Assistant (May 2020 – Aug 2020)
In this internship, I worked as a research assistant for Judge Fredericka H. Wicker. I researched how the use of fines and fees as a method of court funding, particularly in New Orleans, acts as a barrier to justice for citizens, particularly those who lack financial means. I also focused on alternative methods of court funding. The work involved researching court cases, statutes, and other documents through LexisNexis to compile summaries that was formed into a research paper. I also contacted and met with experts on the topic.
Viewpoint Columnist (Fall 2019 – Present)
As a columnist for Notre Dame’s newspaper, I write bi-weekly pieces for The Observer‘s audience 15,000+ readers. While my column covers a variety of topics, I frequently discuss the relationship between religion and politics. To the right are a selection of my columns that are especially relevant to that topic and its related subjects.