MONMOUTH, ILLINOIS (April 20, 2021) — A legal and religious scholar will be featured as Monmouth College marks its annual observance of Law Day.

A national day meant to reflect on the rule of law and the importance of law in society, Law Day was established in 1958. The annual date is May 1, but the Monmouth College event will be held via Zoom at 7PM on April 21.

The guest speaker is Vincent Phillip Munoz, the Tocqueville Associate Professor of Religion and Public Life and Concurrent Associate Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame. Titled "What Is the Free Exercise of Religion? Religious Liberty and the American Constitution," his talk is free and open to the public.

The Zoom link to his talk can be found here. The passcode is LawDay2021.

Monmouth political-science professor Andre Audette, who helped organize the event, said the Constitution, established in 1789, was far ahead of its time.

"The American Constitution was very unique when it was first written and is indeed actually pretty unique today in many respects," he said. "It devised a lot of new systems with separation of powers, the checks and balances. It set up a very unique system of government and was one of the very early movements toward democracy around the world."

That said, Audette noted the First Amendment, which prevents the government from making laws which regulate an establishment of religion, or that would prohibit the free exercise of religion, is "tricky."

"We have to think about what actually is a religion, how do we define that, and then how do we put that into practice regarding laws in the country," he said. "We can usually count on just about every year there's going to be a religion case before the Supreme Court."

Munoz is the founding director of Notre Dame's undergraduate minor in constitutional studies and also directs the university's Tocqueville Program for Inquiry into Religion and Public Life.

He writes and teaches across the fields of constitutional law, American politics and political philosophy, with a focus on religious liberty and the American founding. His first book, God and the Founders: Madison, Washington, and Jefferson, won the Hubert Morken Award from the American Political Science Association for the best publication on religion and politics in 2009 and 2010.

Munoz has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to support his current project, a scholarly monograph on the natural right of religious liberty and the original meaning of the First Amendment's religion clauses.

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