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Hannah Clayson Smith is an American lawyer who is a senior fellow at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and a senior fellow at the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Religious Freedom Institute.

Hannah Clayson Smith
Personal details
Spouse(s)John Smith
Alma materPrinceton University (A.B.)
Brigham Young University (J.D.)



Smith was raised in California and is the sister of Jane Clayson Johnson.[1] She earned a bachelor's degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University before attending Brigham Young University's (BYU) J. Reuben Clark Law School. During law school, Smith was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as Executive Editor of the BYU Law Review.[2] Smith also served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the church's Switzerland Geneva Mission, which covered parts of Switzerland and France.[1]

Following law school, Smith clerked for then-U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Samuel Alito (3rd Circuit). She next clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas (2003-2004), and then returned in 2006 to clerk for Alito following his appointment as an Associate Justice.[2][3] She practiced law at Williams & Connolly and Sidley Austin in Washington D.C.[2]

Smith's legal practice focuses on appellate litigation. She was part of the legal team for landmark U.S. Supreme Court victories such as Zubik v. Burwell, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Holt v. Hobbs, and Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC.[4][2]

In 2017, Smith testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her testimony reviewed his jurisprudence relating to religious liberty cases, including two of Becket's clients: the Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby.[5]

Honors and awardsEdit

In 2014, Smith was awarded the BYU Alumni Achievement Award.[6] In 2016, Smith was awarded the J. Reuben Clark Law Society's Women-in-Law Leadership Award.[7] In 2018, she was awarded the James Madison Award from the Center for Constitutional Studies.

Smith serves on the Brigham Young University Law School's Board of Advisers as well as on the Deseret News editorial advisory board.[2] Smith was on the inaugural panel of Stanford Law School's religious freedom clinic.[8]

Personal lifeEdit

She is married to John Smith, an attorney who also clerked for Alito, and they have four children.[2][1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Israelsen-Hartley, Sara (25 December 2010). "Hannah Clayson Smith: Two-time Supreme Court clerk balances legal endeavors with motherhood". Deseret News. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Hannah Smith - Becket". Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  3. ^ Israelsen-Hartley, Sara (25 December 2010). "Hannah Clayson Smith: Two-time Supreme Court clerk balances legal endeavors with motherhood". Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Wheaton College v. Burwell" (PDF). Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  5. ^ "United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary". Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Alumni Achievers - BYU Magazine". Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Newsletter Story". Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  8. ^ Romea, Judith (February 19, 2013). "A Future for Religious Liberty at Stanford". Stanford Review.

Selected publicationsEdit

External linksEdit