Hannah C. Smith

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Courtesy Deseret News

Hannah Clayson Smith is Senior Counsel at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a public interest law firm that defends religious liberty for people of all faiths.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University where she majored in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She graduated with honors from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University where she was inducted into the Order of the Coif. Before joining The Becket Fund in 2007, she filled two clerkships at the U.S. Supreme Court, for Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. Also prior to joining The Becket Fund, she litigated trial and appellate level cases in Washington, D.C.

As a member of the Becket Fund’s legal team, she successfully defended the First Amendment’s “ministerial exception,” which protects a church’s right to choose its own ministers, resulting in a unanimous victory at the U.S. Supreme Court. She is also active in the litigation challenging the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring employers to pay for certain drugs and devices against their religious convictions, including the U.S. Supreme Court case Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby. Because of her advocacy of religious liberty cases at the trial, appellate, and U.S. Supreme Court levels, she has been featured on numerous news radio shows and newspapers. BYU awarded her its Alumni Achievement Award for her work in the defense of religious freedom.

She 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 on religious liberty issues in the Deseret News.

Smith is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She served as a full-time missionary in France and Switzerland. She and her husband, John M. Smith, are the parents of four children and live in Washington, D.C.