Richard B. Katskee (he/him/his) is the Vice President and Legal Director at Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Richard is a nationally recognized First Amendment expert and advocate. He has litigated cases under the First Amendment’s Establishment, Free Exercise, and Free Speech Clauses in appellate and trial courts throughout the country, including challenging creationism in the public schools; religiously based discrimination in public accommodations, healthcare, foster care, and the workplace; presentation of official prayer at governmental meetings and functions; and the provision of federal funding for social services that include religious content.
Journalist Lauri Lebo has described Richard as “a First Amendment expert known for his encyclopedic knowledge and the engaging prose he brings to his legal briefs.” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward Humes has added that Richard’s “elegantly written briefs are legendary, veritable beach reading in a field better known for its ponderous prose.” Richard is also an accomplished oral advocate who has argued cases before the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth and D.C. Circuits, as well as in federal district courts and state courts across the country.
Richard formerly specialized in constitutional litigation as a member of the Supreme Court & Appellate practice at Mayer Brown LLP in Washington, D.C. He also previously served as deputy director of the Program Legal Group in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, where he led the development of policy initiatives to implement federal antidiscrimination laws in the nation’s schools, colleges and universities.
Richard received his Juris Doctor from the Yale Law School (where he was an articles editor on the Yale Law Journal), his master’s degree in political science from Harvard University (where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow) and his bachelor’s degree with highest distinction and high honors from the University of Michigan. He clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for Judge Guido Calabresi on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; he was a Eugene P. Beard Graduate Fellow in Ethics at Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics; he taught courses in professional and political ethics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and at Harvard College; and he served as an adjunct associate professor of church–state law at the American University Washington College of Law.
Richard is a member of the American Law Institute and an adviser to the Restatement of the Law: Children and the Law. He is Special Adviser to, and former Co-Chair of, the Religious Liberty Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice. He serves on the Board of Advisers for a new National Museum of American Religion and formerly served on the Board of Directors for the National Center for Science Education. He is a Visiting Fellow with the Council of Independent Colleges. And he regularly delivers guest lectures and participates as a panelist at universities and legal, educational and scientific associations across the country.
Among Richard’s publications are: Beating Plowshares Into Swords, Human Rights, Jan. 2013; Science, Intersubjective Validity, and Judicial Legitimacy, 73 Brooklyn L. Rev. 857 (2008); Why it Mattered to Dover that Intelligent Design Isn’t Science, 4 First Amend. L. Rev. 112 (2006); and Paying for Praying: What’s Wrong with the Faith-Based Initiative, Human Rights, Summer 2006. He is coauthor of Preserving Issues for Appeal, in Federal Appellate Practice (2d ed. 2013).