Meet the team at the Law, Rights & Religion Project
Professor Katherine Franke
Katherine Franke is the Faculty Director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project. She is the James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University, where she also directs the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. She is a member of the Executive Committee for the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality, and the Center for Palestine Studies. She is among the nation's leading scholars writing on law, rights, and religion, drawing from feminist, queer, and critical race theory.
Her book, Repair: Redeeming the Promise of Abolition, (Haymarket, 2019) makes the case for racial reparations today by telling the story of experiments in South Carolina and Mississippi in the 1860s where freed people were given land explicitly as reparation for enslavement and then had it taken away by the government. Her book, Wedlocked: The Perils of Marriage Equality, (NYU Press, 2015) considered the costs of winning marriage for same-sex couples today and for African Americans at the end of the Civil War. Franke was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011 to undertake research for Wedlocked. In addition to her work at the Law School, she works regularly in Palestine, most recently serving as an academic mentor for the human rights faculty at Al Quds University in East Jerusalem. She also chairs the board of directors of the Center for Constitutional Rights, based in New York City.
Before coming to Columbia Law School, Franke was an associate professor at Fordham Law School and the University of Arizona College of Law. From 1990 to 1991, she was the executive director of the National Lawyers Guild. Before that, she worked for the New York City Commission on Human Rights and founded the AIDS and Employment Project.
Elizabeth Reiner Platt
Director, The Law, Rights, and Religion Project
Elizabeth (Liz) Reiner Platt is the Director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project (LRRP), and has been with the project since 2015. Before joining Columbia, she was a Staff Attorney at MFY Legal Services Mental Health Law Project. After graduating from New York University School of Law, she was a Carr Center for Reproductive Justice Fellow at A Better Balance. During law school, Liz worked with the Urban Justice Sex Workers Project, New York Civil Liberties Union, and Brennan Center for Justice. In 2013, she published Gangsters to Greyhounds: The Past, Present and Future of Offender Registration, 37 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 727 (2013).
A leading voice on religious liberty and the intersection of faith and politics, Liz’s work has been published in The Hill, Religion Dispatches, Religion News Service, Rewire, Canopy Forum, Sojourners, and The Review of Faith & International Affairs, among others. She has been cited as an expert in law and religion in numerous publications including The Washington Post and the Associated Press.
Dr. Christine Ryan
Associate Director for Religion and Reproductive Rights
Dr. Christine A. Ryan directs LRRP’s work at the intersection of religious liberty and reproductive rights at Columbia Law School's Center for Gender & Sexuality Law. Christine provides rigorous academic analysis, technical support and thought leadership to advance equality-enhancing approaches to religious liberty. In particular, she advises on legal strategies relating to faith and abortion access.
Christine joined LRRP from the Global Justice Center, where she led the Center’s legal and advocacy work on reproductive rights and gender based violence. Prior to that, she served as Senior Legal Advisor to United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed. At the UN, Christine also led a global study on anti-gender campaigns and continues to advise UN Special Procedures and advocacy organizations on this issue. Christine began her legal career as a human rights advisor to the Irish Government.
Christine completed her doctorate in law at Duke University School of Law as a Fulbright Scholar. She holds an LLM from University College London and a Bachelor of Laws and Irish from University College Cork. She is a member of the Religions for Peace Standing Commission.