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Justice by John Dixey (d. 1820), designed for the cupola of New York's City Hall, 1812. Courtesy of the New York Historical Society.

Collection of The New-York Historical Society (neg #80271d)

"Religious Freedom in America, 1813 to 2013: Bicentennial Reflections on People v. Philips"

Friday, April 12th, 2013 – Sunday, April 14th, 2013

"Religious Freedom in America, 1813 to 2013: Bicentennial Reflections on People v. Philips" is a weekend of events that marks the landmark 1813 case that is the earliest known constitutional test of freedom of religion and the priest-penitent evidentiary privilege in American law. A dynamic line-up of events will demonstrate how a trial for a petty jewelry theft escalated into an argument for religious freedom when the local priest was subpoenaed to testify what he had heard in confession.

In People v. Philips, William Sampson — a banished political exile from Ireland and a Protestant — argued on behalf of the Trustees of St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church on Barclay Street before the presiding judge, Mayor DeWitt Clinton. William Sampson's experience of religious-based intolerance in Ireland propelled him to persuade the court that America should not look to British common law for legal precedent when dealing with Catholics, then a small but growing minority in New York City.

William Sampson's own published account of the case, The Catholic Question in America, will be presented in a staged reading adapted by Steve DiUbaldo of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts on Friday evening, 12 April. A full-day symposium follows on Saturday, 13 April, where scholars from a wide variety of disciplines — especially law, religion, history, and politics — will comment on Sampson's 1813 record of the trial and consider it in relation to their own understanding of contemporary issues. On Sunday morning 14 April, Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, the final resting place of lawyer William Sampson and DeWitt Clinton, will mark the 200th anniversary of the case with an encore reading of The Catholic Question and a wreath-laying ceremony.

Support for these events has been provided, in part, by Arts & Science and the Humanities Initiative at New York University.


The Catholic Question:
How a jewelry theft in 1813 New York City became a legal argument about religious freedom in America


Friday, April 12th at 7pm
Tishman Auditorium, New York University School of Law
40 Washington Square South between MacDougal & Sullivan Streets | See Map

A play by Steve DiUbaldo
Based on William Sampson's The Catholic Question in America (1813)
Staged reading produced by Glucksman Ireland House, New York University
Directed by Stephen Cedars

Hear the original and historic arguments on the issue of religious freedom adapted from William Sampson's own published account of the case. The Catholic Question has been adapted for a staged reading by Steve DiUbaldo, the recipient of a Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Scholarship and the Rita Goldberg Playwright Foundation Scholarship at New York University.


Please click above to view the performance.

Click here to view the interactive program.



Download a copy of our poster for The Catholic Question.



Religious Freedom in America, 1813-2013:
Bicentennial Reflections on People v Philips

Saturday,13 April 2013, 9am — 5:15pm
Tishman Auditorium, NewYork University School of Law
40 Washington Square South between MacDougal & Sullivan Streets | See Map

FREE ADMISSION

Presented in partnership with New York University's Center for Religion and Media, and the Irish American Bar Association of New York.

In the wake of a number of bias incidents, the Catholics of New York City, a small but growing minority, sought a judicial decision in 1813 that would protect their "free exercise and enjoyment of their religious profession and worship." People v. Philips is the earliest known constitutional test of freedom of religion and the priest-penitent evidentiary privilege in American law. Based on the record of the trial by the Irish political exile and radical lawyer William Sampson, scholars from a wide variety of disciplines will consider the original arguments in relation to their understanding of religious freedom today.

Download a copy of our poster for Religious Freedom in America.

The symposium is presented in partnership with New York University's Center for Religion and Media, and the Irish American Bar Association of New York.

Schedule
9:00am
Welcoming Remarks

John Sexton, President of New York University, & J.J. Lee, Director of Glucksman Ireland House, NYU
9:15-11:00am
Postcolonial New York, a Catholic Minority & Emerging Jurisprudence

People v. Philips in the context of 19th century constitutionalism, religious exemption, evidentiary privilege, and Catholic history.
  • Martin Burke, Associate Professor of History, CUNY Graduate Center
  • Jason Duncan, Associate Professor of History, Aquinas College
  • Peter J. Galie, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Canisius College
  • William E. Nelson, Judge Weinfeld Professor of Law, NYU
  • Thomas J. Shelley, Professor Emeritus of Theology, Fordham
  • Moderator: Dean Lauren Benton, Professor of History, NYU

11:30am -12:30pm
FEATURED SPEAKER

Walter J. Walsh, Associate Professor of Law, University of Washington, Seattle
How William Sampson (1764-1836) came to be Amicus Curiae in People v. Philips, in the context of his interests in radical politics and human rights law.

Introduced by Marion R. Casey, Clinical Assistant Professor of Irish Studies, NYU

2:00-3:30pm
Religion, Rights and the State

People v. Philips in the context of 20th century constitutionalism and religious exemption, as well as in our current understanding of the relationship between religion, the law and human rights.
  • Steven K. Green, Fred H. Paulus Professor of Law/Director, Center for Religion, Law and Democracy, Willamette University
  • Leslie C. Griffin, William S. Boyd Professor of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Mary J. Hickman, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, London Metropolitan University
  • Khalid Latif, University Chaplain & Executive Director, The Islamic Center at New York University
  • Patrick J. Ryan, S.J., Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society, Fordham
  • Moderator: Angela Zito, Associate Professor of Anthropology & Religious Studies/ Director, Religious Studies Program/ Co-Director, Center for Religion & Media, NYU

4:15-4:45pm
Featured Speaker:

Judge Bryan M. E. McMahon, Emeritus, Irish High Court

Introduced by Gráinne de Búrca, Florence Ellinwood Allen Professor of Law, NYU

4:45-5:15pm
Roundtable Q&A

Evaluates People v. Philips in light of contemporary developments in the United States, Ireland and Europe

Moderator: Gráinne de Búrca, Florence Ellinwood Allen Professor of Law, NYU




Meet the Speakers Reception
Saturday, April 13th. 5:30-7:30pm
Glucksman Ireland House, New York University
1 Washington Mews (Entrance on 5th Avenue) | See Map

In the welcoming surroundings of Glucksman Ireland House, continue the discussion with your fellow attendees and symposium presenters as you enjoy delicious hors d'oeuvres and wine at this special VIP reception. Meet faculty of NYU Irish and Irish-American Studies and get an opportunity to mingle and muse over the weekend's interesting events.

Tickets:
smarttix.com

purchase tickets at SmartTix.com

Purchase tickets at SmartTix.com or call (212) 868-4444.

Tickets: $25 in advance, Space is Limited






Court's in Session:
America's First Test of Religious Freedom
Sunday, 14 April 2013 at 1pm
Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY
500 25th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11232 | See Map

Presented in partnership with the Green-Wood Historic Trust and the New York Irish History Roundtable.

Green-Wood Cemetery is the final resting place of lawyer William Sampson and Judge DeWitt Clinton — the two major players in an 1813 court case that first tested religious freedom in America. In partnership with NYU's Glucksman Ireland House and the New York Irish History Roundtable, Green-Wood will honor this event and its major players on its 200th anniversary, with an encore performance of Steve DiUbaldo's play The Catholic Question and a wreath-laying ceremony.

Ticket information and event details are available at www.green-wood.com

Special 20th Anniversary EventGlucksmanLogo.jpeg

 Join Glucksman Ireland House NYU as we celebrate our 20th anniversary! We are delighted to look forward to another 20 wonderful years of presenting the best of Irish culture in New York City. Become a 20th anniversary member and support our dual mission of excellence in academic study and the presentation of cultural events to the New York public. Members receive free admission or discounted tickets to most events, as well as many other benefits. New members receive the coveted GIH tote bag!