SOL Magazine Spring 2023





and Robin Fretwell Wilson, who co-authored a letter to Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin) prior to the Senate’s approval of the RFMA. It urged Republican senators to support the bill and explained the religious freedom protections that had been added. During the floor debate, Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), a lead Republican proponent of the bill, repeatedly quoted and cited the letter from Berg and his colleagues – “the opinion of leading experts in the field” – as the key analysis showing that the religious liberty protections were significant. For Berg and his colleagues, the passage of the RFMA is an important milestone during a time of significant political polarization and an example of how groups on two sides of a legislative issue can find balanced solutions and respect the constitutional freedoms of both sides. “The great benefit of this law is that it will exemplify that we can protect both same-sex marriage rights and religious liberty – indeed, as a practical matter in our divided times, we must protect one as we protect the other,” Berg said. “The refusal by activists on both sides to seek balanced solutions has blocked the passage of LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws and harmed the appeal of religious liberty as a fundamental right. This bill helpfully shows that it’s possible to overcome the impasse, even in a small way; thus, it could encourage future, broader efforts.”

Vischer has a storied tenure at St. Thomas. He served as dean of the School of Law from 2013-22, rising through its ranks from when he started as an associate professor of law in 2005. The announcement comes as St. Thomas approaches an important juncture in its history as it continues its decades-long evolution from one of Minnesota’s small liberal arts colleges to a national Catholic university. “Rob is known as a highly effective relational leader with a strong dedication to the mission of the university and someone who puts the students at the center of every decision and action,” said Dr. Amy Goldman, CEO and chair of the GHR Foundation, chair of the Presidential Search Committee and vice chair of the St. Thomas Board of Trustees. “The board has put its faith in Rob as the leader who will continue the St. Thomas trajectory to become the undisputed premier private university in the Midwest.” At the 12th annual Alumnae Brunch, St. Thomas Law honored Victoria Brenner ‘04 J.D. with an Alumna Achievement Award. She was nominated by fellow alum and colleague Michael Boulette ‘10 J.D. ⁣Brenner is a partner at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP in their Minneapolis-based Domestic Relations group. She is past-president of the Warren E. Burger American Inn of Court; past-president of the Minnesota Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts; and past-chair of the Minnesota Justice Foundation. Victoria cofounded the Ramsey County Veterans Limited Scope Legal Services Program and was named Attorney of the Year by the Tubman Safety Project. Brenner is also an advocate for diversity in the legal profession, serving as a mentor with Twin Cities Diversity in Practice and as a voice for diversity within her law firm.

The Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) was passed by the U.S. Senate on Nov. 29, 2022, with the help of analysis and support from a group of leading religious liberty scholars that included School of Law Professor Thomas Berg. The bill, which was signed into law on Dec. 13, 2022, requires all states to recognize same-sex unions legally performed elsewhere in the country. It was ultimately passed because its authors negotiated an amendment for religious liberty protections, which secured endorsement of the bill from religious groups such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was also endorsed publicly by top constitutional law experts Thomas Berg, Douglas Laycock, Carl Esbeck

The St. Thomas Board of Trustees unanimously selected law school Dean Robert K. Vischer as the university’s 16th president following a nationwide search. He is the second layperson to assume the role and had been serving as interim president since June 2022. Vischer assumed the permanent role on Jan. 1, 2023.



The fifth edition of “The Constitution of the United States,” co-authored by Professor

The second edition of “Learning Sales Law,” co-authored by Associate Dean Elizabeth Schiltz , was published by West Academic.

Michael Stokes Paulsen, was published by West Academic.

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