News & Events
Ohio State Law Students to Assist with U.S. Supreme Court Argument
October 12, 2004
Today the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Cutter v. Wilkinson, a case in which attorneys associated with The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law will argue both sides.
David Goldberger, Director of Clinical Programs at Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law will represent prison inmates seeking protection of their statutory rights to religious exercise, while Ohio Solicitor Douglas Cole, who is on leave from the Moritz College faculty, will represent the State of Ohio.
Students from the college will assist Professor Goldberger in preparing documents for the argument, which is expected after the first of the year.
The case involves prison inmates who sued the State of Ohio claiming they were denied access to religious literature and ceremonial items under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. The statute, which was enacted by Congress, requires states to accommodate prisoners’ religious beliefs unless the prison officials can show that there is compelling reason not to accommodate the request.
The Sixth Circuit invalidated the statute as a violation of the United States Constitution’s Establishment Clause. The prison inmates sought Supreme Court review.
“This case is an important case because it should clarify the power of state and federal government to lift governmental burdens from religious exercise of all prisoners without violating the establishment clause,” Goldberger said. “The case may also define the degree to which Congress may condition its appropriations to state governments based on their willingness to comply with the congressional funding requirement.”
“This case is about prison safety,” said Cole. “We believe that prison wardens are in the best position to make decisions about the security implications of various kinds of prisoner requests, and that the federal government should not be foisting a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution on the states.”
Through the clinical programs at the Moritz College of Law, second and third-year law students receive practical training and a chance for third-years to represent actual clients. Professor Goldberger and his students have worked on this case for years, and will continue to work on the case in preparation for the arguments in front of the Supreme Court.
“I feel very lucky to be involved in something so important to the school and to the law in general,” said Anne Juterbock, a third-year law student at the Moritz College of Law from Ashtabula County, who is a research assistant for Goldberger and a participant in the civil law clinic. “I never thought I would set foot in a courtroom and now I am considering litigation as a career.”
Since Goldberger has been director of the clinical programs students have worked on other important cases including McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, which also reached the United States Supreme Court.
Cole expressed his excitement to argue against Goldberger.
“I know that my colleague and good friend David Goldberger will do an exceptional job on behalf of his clients,” the Ohio Solicitor noted. “It will be a real treat to argue against someone for whom I have such great respect.”
Since 1891, the Moritz College of Law has played a leading role in the legal profession through countless contributions made by alumni and faculty. Graduates of the school reside in all 50 states and 20 other countries and include justices of the Ohio Supreme Court, current and former U.S. senators and representatives, managing partners in law firms of all sizes, chief executive officers of Fortune 500 corporations, and attorneys with nonprofit organizations and public interest law firms.