J. Reuben Clark Law School alumna Hannah Clayson Smith has joined the International Center for Law and Religion Studies (ICLRS) as a Senior Fellow, following two clerkships at the US Supreme Court, for Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and a distinguished decade of service as Senior Counsel at Becket Law. Hannah brings to ICLRS an unparalleled interest in and record of service to religious liberty in the United States. She was a member of the legal teams that secured victories in key U.S. Supreme Court religious liberty cases, including Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, Holt v. Hobbs, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, and Zubik v. Burwell (the “Little Sisters of the Poor” case). During her time at Becket, she contributed to 25 Supreme Court briefs and represented more than 13 major faith groups including Anglicans, Assemblies of God, Baptists, Catholics, Hindus, Hutterites, Jews, Lutherans, Mormons, Muslims, Russian Orthodox, Santeros, and Sikhs.
Hannah testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of then-US Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution. She has briefed policymakers at the White House, U.S. Capitol, State Department, the American Bar Association, the National Constitution Center, the Newseum, the Heritage Foundation, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. Her television, newspaper, and radio appearances include CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, C-Span, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, AP, Forbes, NPR, and BBC. Her opinion-editorials appear in US News & World Report, NY Daily News, Daily Signal, Fox News, NRO, SCOTUSblog, and Deseret News. She has addressed audiences at Harvard Law, Princeton University, Stanford Law, Columbia Law, Penn Law, Georgetown Law, BYU Law, and Central European University.
Hannah received her BA from Princeton University, concentrating in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. At BYU Law School, she was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as Executive Editor of the BYU Law Review and as one of the founding-era research assistants for the ICLRS. BYU awarded her its Alumni Achievement Award in 2013, and the J. Reuben Clark Law Society presented her with its Women-in-Law Leadership Award in 2016. In 2017, she delivered the G. Homer Durham Lecture, speaking on the topic “Religious Liberty: The Promise of American Religious Pluralism.” In 2018, she was honored with the James Madison Award from the Center for Constitutional Studies.
Following law school and in between clerkships, Hannah 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. She served as a full-time volunteer missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in France and Switzerland. Currently, she serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Religious Freedom Institute and as a member of the Board of Advisors for her alma mater BYU Law School. Hannah and her husband, John, an attorney who is also a BYU Law School graduate and former clerk for Justice Alito, live in Washington, DC and are the parents of four wonderful children.