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James C. Phillips

Constitutional Government Initiative Director

James C. Phillips is the Constitutional Government Initiative Director and an associate professor at BYU’s Wheatley Institute. He is a nationally recognized constitutional scholar and appellate advocate with sought-after expertise on the freedom of religion and constitutional interpretation. His scholarship has been cited by judges around the country, including at the U.S. Supreme Court, and has been covered in various media outlets, including the New York Times Magazine, USA Today, Reuters, CNN, and Fox News. He is a member of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society Religious Liberty Committee and the Executive Committee of the Federalist Society's Religious Liberty Practice Group.

Prior to joining Wheatley, Phillips was associate professor of law at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, where he taught Constitutional Law, Religion and the Constitution, Civil Procedure, Family Law, and Professional Responsibility and was named 1L Professor of the Year. Dr. Phillips has taught Administrative Law at BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, where he also helped conceive and design the Corpus of Founding-Era American English. He was also a Non-resident Fellow with Stanford Law School’s Constitutional Law Center.

Dr. Phillips has published 30 academic articles, primarily in law journals, but also communications, business, and history journals. His longer pieces have been published in, for example, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the Southern California Law Review, and the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, and his shorter articles have been published in journals such as the Yale Law Journal Forum and the Duke Law Journal Online. Dr. Phillips has also written op-eds on constitutional issues for Newsweek, The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, Deseret News, and National Review.

Prior to his university posts, Dr. Phillips practiced law as a Constitutional Law Fellow for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and an associate for Kirton | McConkie. He has worked on over 30 cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, and in federal and state courts throughout the country. He is currently an academic affiliate with the D.C. law firm of Schaerr | Jaffe and is a member of the bar in Utah and D.C. He clerked for Judge Thomas B. Griffith on the U.S. Court of Appeal for the D.C. Circuit and for Justice Thomas R. Lee on the Utah Supreme Court. Dr. Phillips earned his JD, Order of the Coif, from UC-Berkeley’s School of Law, where he was a member of the California Law Review. He also has a PhD in Jurisprudence & Social Policy from UC-Berkeley, an M.A. in Mass Communication from BYU, and a B.A. in History from Arizona State University. He and his wife live in Utah County and have eight children.

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