Meet the Judges of the 2022 Religious Freedom Tournament!

The NDLS Moot Court Board is excited to announce the judges who have graciously agreed to judge this year’s tournament.

The Notre Dame Religious Freedom Tournament is committed to providing an enriching environment for all competitors. Throughout the weekend, Tournament participants will have multiple opportunities to interact with both semifinal and final round judges, including an informal closing reception on Sunday evening. On Saturday evening, in recognition of their outstanding performance, the two finalist teams will be invited to a private dinner with the semifinal and final round judges, Notre Dame Law School faculty, and members of the Notre Dame Moot Court Board.

Final Round

Judge Ryan D. Nelson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Judge Ryan Nelson was confirmed to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in October, 2018. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Nelson served as general counsel of Melaleuca, Inc. He previously served as special counsel to the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as a law clerk to the Senate Legal Counsel, as deputy general counsel to the White House Office of Management and Budget, and as deputy assistant attorney general in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Earlier in his career, Judge Nelson was an associate in the Washington, D.C., office of Sidley Austin.

Judge Nelson received his B.A. from Brigham Young University and his
J.D. from BYU Law School, graduating with honors and inducted into the Order of
the Coif. He clerked for Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and for Judges Charles N. Brower and Richard M. Mosk of the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal at The Hague.

Judge David R. Stras of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

David Stras became a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the
Eighth Circuit on January 31, 2018. Before serving on the Eighth Circuit,
Judge Stras was an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, a
position he occupied from July 1, 2010 until his appointment to the Eighth

Prior to becoming a judge, Stras was a member of the faculty of the University
of Minnesota Law School from 2004 through 2010. He taught and wrote in
the areas of federal courts and jurisdiction, constitutional law, criminal law, and law and politics. Following law school, Stras clerked for The Honorable Melvin Brunetti of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and then for The Honorable J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

From 2001 to 2002, he practiced white-collar criminal and appellate litigation
with the Washington, D.C., office of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood. Following
his year in practice, he clerked for The Honorable Clarence Thomas of the
Supreme Court of the United States.

Semifinal Round

Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida

The Honorable Kathryn Kimball Mizelle is a United States district judge for
the Middle District of Florida. She was nominated in September 2020 and
confirmed by the Senate later that year. At the age of 33, she became the
youngest Article III judge on the federal bench. Prior to her confirmation,
Judge Mizelle was in private practice at Jones Day. There, she focused on
complex civil and criminal litigation and appeals. Judge Mizelle also
previously served at the Department of Justice as Counsel to the Associate
Attorney General, as a Trial Attorney in the criminal Tax Division, and as a
Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia
where she prosecuted the largest human trafficking case ever charged in
that district. Judge Mizelle also serves as an adjunct professor of law at the
University of Florida Levin College of Law where she teaches a course about
the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses. 

Upon graduation from law school, Judge Mizelle served as a law clerk to
Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court, Judge
Gregory G. Katsas of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit,
Chief Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for
the Eleventh Circuit, and Judge James S. Moody Jr. of the United States
District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Judge Mizelle earned her
B.A., summa cum laude, from Covenant College, and her J.D., summa cum
laude, from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Judge Stephen R. Clark of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri

In June 2019, Judge Stephen R. Clark was sworn in as a United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Judge Clark is a 1991 graduate of St. Louis University School of Law and a 1988 graduate of the University of Notre Dame.  

Before taking office as District Judge, Clark was the Founding and Managing Partner of Runnymede Law Group, formerly known as Clark & Sauer, a national litigation practice representing clients in trials and appeals of complex commercial and constitutional litigation.  Before founding that firm, Judge Clark had been a partner of Husch Blackwell, LLP, Polsinelli P.C., and Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C.

As an attorney, Judge Clark tried over 40 cases to verdict or judgment in State-Circuit and Federal-District Courts.  He also argued numerous appeals in the Missouri Supreme Court, various State Appellate Courts, and various Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals.  Before the AAA and other panels, he tried numerous arbitrations to award.  As a municipal prosecutor, he also tried over 200 cases to conclusion.  During his career, he had a national practice, handling cases in over 20 Federal District Courts, five Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals, and the courts of nine states.

Bradley Girard of Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Bradley Girard is Litigation Counsel for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Bradley returned to AU after serving as the Steven Gey Constitutional Litigation Fellow from 2015-17. He graduated cum laude from Georgetown Law in 2014. After law school he clerked for the Honorable Neal E. Kravitz on the D.C. Superior Court and on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for the Honorable Martha Craig Daughtrey.

Immediately before returning to AU, Bradley was the clinical teaching fellow at Georgetown Law’s Appellate Courts Immersion Clinic, where he taught students public-interest impact litigation in the federal courts of appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. He also earned an LLM in advocacy. During law school, Bradley interned at Gupta Wessler, Public Justice, Mehri & Skalet, and in the civil-rights division of the Institute for Public Representation. He also interned on the D.C. district court, in the chambers of the Honorable Gladys Kessler.

Bradley has been published in the Georgetown Law Journal, the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy, Law360, and SCOTUSblog, among others.

Judge Wendy Vitter of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

Wendy Vitter was sworn in as a judge for the United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, on May 30, 2019. Immediately prior to her appointment to the Bench, Judge Vitter was General Counsel for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the first General Counsel in the history of the Archdiocese, providing counsel to the Archdiocese as well as entities such as Catholic Charities, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Clarion Herald, Notre Dame Seminary, and over 100 elementary and high schools. Judge Vitter had previously worked as an associate at Abbott & Meeks Law Firm which specialized in Admiralty litigation. Prior to that role, she served as an Assistant District Attorney in New Orleans, trying over 100 jury trials with a specialty in homicide prosecutions, having been lead counsel in over ten homicide prosecutions. At the time she left the
Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office, she was Chief of the Trials Division,
overseeing the trial attorneys in ten sections of Criminal District Court. Judge Vitter received her BA degree from Sam Houston State University, earning her degree in 3 ½
years and Law Degree from Tulane University Law School. She is a New Orleans native and huge Saints fan—when not joining with her 12 family members who all attended Notre Dame to cheer for the Fighting Irish! She and her husband David are the very proud parents of four young adults.

Lori Windham of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Lori Windham is Senior Counsel at Becket, where she has represented clients on cutting-edge religious freedom issues since 2005. She has represented parties before the Supreme

Court, arguing Becket’s unanimous victory on behalf of foster families in Fulton v. Philadelphia, as well as working with the Becket team on its Supreme Court victories in Hosanna-Tabor, Hobby Lobby, and Little Sisters of the Poor. She won a victory for the world’s largest religious media network in EWTN v. Azar, staving off millions of dollars in government fines under unlawful the HHS mandate. She has won more than a dozen victories in federal appellate courts, including successful defense of cities and school districts sued for accommodating religion, victories for houses of worship facing discrimination in the land use process, and overturning a multimillion-dollar judgment against a major evangelical ministry. She recently won a first-in-the-nation injunction for an adoption agency threatened with shutdown for its religious beliefs.
Recognized in Washington as an expert on religious freedom issues, Lori has testified in Congressional oversight hearings before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary
Committee and before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Outside Washington, Lori is sought-after speaker on First Amendment law, including appearances at Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, Central European University, and many others.
In addition to these venues, Lori also defends her clients in the media, including television appearances on CBS This Morning, Hardball, CNN Tonight, On the Record, America’s
Newsroom, Opinion Journal, and many others. Her work has been covered by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and dozens of other papers. She is also a
regular guest on radio, with appearances on shows ranging from Sean Hannity to NPR.

Lori has successfully represented a wide array of clients, including a Santeria priest prohibited from making animal sacrifices, synagogues prohibited from building on their
own land, and religious student organizations penalized for their religious speech. One of her most challenging cases involved travel to a remote farming community to ensure that members of the local Amish community were not jailed for using their traditional building methods.
Lori is a graduate of Harvard Law School and earned her B.A. summa cum laude at Abilene Christian University. She has served on the Board of Visitors of Abilene Christian University and received the ACU Young Alumnus of the Year award for her work at Becket. She sits on the board of Dominion Christian School and the visiting committee of the Fund for American Studies’ Summer Law Fellowship.

© 2022 Notre Dame Moot Court

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: