WASHINGTON (July 6, 2007)— Anthony R. Picarello Jr., Vice President and General Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Washington, has been appointed General Counsel of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Msgr. David J. Malloy, USCCB General Secretary, announced the appointment, effective September 17.
"Anthony Picarello possesses extraordinary legal knowledge and ability and a deep commitment to religious liberty," Msgr. Malloy said. "He has been a champion of the disadvantaged and of all those whose rights have been infringed upon, especially in the area of religious freedom, throughout his career. I am extremely pleased that he has accepted this major position on behalf of the Bishops' Conference."
"I also wish to thank his predecessor, Mark Chopko, who leaves the Conference to enter the private sector," Msgr. Malloy said. "For the past 20 years, Mark has rendered outstanding service to the Catholic Bishops of the United States and their gratitude to him will be deep and lasting."
At the Becket Fund since June, 2000, Picarello has litigated major religious freedom cases on behalf of people of all faiths. He conducted and supervised a full range of trial and appellate litigation activities. In January, 2007, Picarello was named to The American Lawyer's list of the top 50 litigators under age 45.
As Vice President and General Counsel of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Picarello enhanced the firm's reputation for excellence in litigation under the Free Speech, Free
Exercise, and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment, as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He is one of the nation's leading experts on the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.
He has had extensive experience in communicating about litigation through press, radio, TV, and internet outlets. He has published and lectured on various religious freedom topics for academic, legal-practitioner, and general audiences.
At the Washington law firm of Covington and Burling from 1996 to 2000, Picarello developed expertise in both environmental and employment law. He participated in an administrative challenge to the Federal Election Commission audit and in a post-conviction appeal of a death sentence in Mississippi.
Picarello graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1991, writing his thesis on the concept of inculturation as it relates to Catholic missions in India. At Harvard he was President of the Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Student Association in 1990, and served as a tutor in an inner-city tutoring program.
He graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was Essays Editor for the Virginia Law Review, in 1995. Between college and law school, he earned a masters' degree in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School. He completed his thesis on the work of theologians John Courtney Murray and Bernard Lonergan, under the supervision of Father David Tracy.
Picarello is a member of the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court and almost all federal Courts of Appeals. Among the cases in which he has had some involvement were Catholic Charities of Sacramento v. Calif.; Americans United for Separation of Church and State v. Prison Fellowship Ministries; Elsinore Christian Center v. City of Lake Elsinore; Curay-Cramer v. Ursuline Academy of Wilmington; Congregation Kol Ami v. Abington Township; and Freedom Baptist Church v Township of Middletown.
A widely quoted expert on the law, Picarello has written both for scholarly publications and for the mainstream media, including USA Today (June 27, 2005) "Motive Meters Required,"
and New York Newsday (October 2, 2005) "Only a Great Reason Can Zone Out a Church." He has also made numerous radio and TV appearances to discuss legal issues.
Picarello has spoken at lectures, seminars and panels on "The Future of the Freedom of Religion: Land Use Issues," co-sponsored by Sidley Austin, LLP, the American Constitution Society, and Catholic University Law School (May 17, 2007); "Gay Marriage and Amending the Constitution," Federalist Society Lawyers' Conference (2004); "The Constitutionality of School Voucher Programs," Colorado State Bar (2000); "The Pledge of Allegiance and Government Sponsored Religious Exercises in Public Schools," University of North Carolina Law School (2006); "The Faith-Based Initiative," Americans United for Separation of Church and State (2001); and "An Unfinished Argument: John Courtney Murray, Dignitatis Humanae, and the Catholic Theory of the State," Faith and Reason Institute (2000).