Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith Senior Counsel

Hannah Smith, Senior Counsel




J.D., J. Reuben Clark Law School, Order of the Coif

B.A., Princeton University


U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.
U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas

Senior Counsel Hannah Smith joined The Becket Fund in 2007 following two clerkships at the U.S. Supreme Court for Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito, Jr.

Hannah was a member of the Becket Fund legal team that secured victories in key U.S. Supreme Court religious liberty cases, including Holt v. Hobbs, 574 U.S. ___ (Jan. 20, 2015), where a unanimous Court held in an opinion authored by Justice Alito that the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act requires prison officials to accommodate peaceful expressions of religious devotion; Burwell v. Hobby Lobby 134 S. Ct. 2751 (June 30, 2014), where the Court held in a 5-4 opinion authored by Justice Alito that family-owned businesses enjoy religious liberty rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and that the HHS mandate violated the Act; and Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, 132 S. Ct. 694 (2012), where a unanimous Court held in an opinion authored by Chief Justice Roberts that the “ministerial exception” under the First Amendment protects a church’s right to choose its own ministers.

Hannah also contributed to the Becket Fund’s Supreme Court filings in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Sebelius, 134 S. Ct. 1022 (Jan. 24, 2014); Wheaton College v. Burwell, 134 S. Ct. 2806 (July 3, 2014); Bronx Household of Faith v. New York City Board of Education (2014), Elmbrook School District v. Doe (2014), Big Sky Colony v. Montana Department of Labor and Industry (2013), Sossamon v. Texas (2011), Arizona Christian School Tuition Association v. Winn (2011), Bronx Household of Faith v. New York City Board of Education (2011), Utah Highway Patrol Association v. American Atheists (2011), Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (2010), and Salazar v. Buono (2010).

In her advocacy of religious liberty cases at the trial, appellate, and U.S. Supreme Court levels, Hannah has been featured on CNN, Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, The Sean Hannity Show, C-Span, EWTN, Al Jazeera America, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, U.S. News and World Report, the Associated Press, National Review Online, the Laura Ingraham Show, the Rush Limbaugh Show, NPR, BBC, BYU Radio, and many other publications and radio shows. She has delivered lectures at Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Southern Methodist University Law School, Brigham Young University Law School, and American University Washington College of the Law. And she has given briefings on religious liberty issues at the U.S. Capitol, the State Department, the Heritage Foundation, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, and the American Bar Association.

Hannah received her B.A. from Princeton University, concentrating in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She graduated from Brigham Young University Law School and was elected to the Order of the Coif. She served as Executive Editor of the BYU Law Review, as a research assistant for the BYU International Center for Law and Religion Studies, and as president of the BYU Federalist Society. BYU awarded her its Alumni Achievement Award in 2013.

Following law school and in between clerkships, she was an associate in private practice at national law firms in Washington D.C., representing clients before state and federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court in civil, criminal, and constitutional cases. Her private practice religious liberty work included the U.S. Supreme Court petition for certiorari in Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints v. First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City (2003), as well as matters on behalf of Brigham Young University, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington D.C.

Hannah served as a full-time volunteer missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in France and Switzerland. She currently serves as a member of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society International Board and as a member of the Deseret News Editorial Advisory Board. She writes a regular column on religious liberty issues in the Deseret News. Hannah and her husband have 4 children.

Foreign Language: French.

Bar Memberships: District of Columbia, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fifth, and Eleventh Circuits, U.S. District Courts for the District of Columbia and New Jersey.

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