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Attorney General William Barr to speak on religious freedom at Notre Dame Law School

| Thursday, October 10, 2019

This report was updated at 5:11 p.m.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr will deliver a closed lecture to the Notre Dame Law School and de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at 4 p.m. Friday in the McCartan Courtroom. 

Barr will discuss “religious freedom,” University spokesperson Dennis Brown told the South Bend Tribune. The U.S. Department of Justice has yet to give the University further information about the talk, Brown said.

The ticketed event is reserved for students, staff and faculty of the law school. Brown told the Tribune the talk was not publicized because it is private.

Barr’s visit was first announced to the law school community via email Monday.

“Please do not circulate this invitation outside of the law school community, as space is extremely limited,” the University said in the email.

University vice president for public affairs and communication Paul Browne said tickets were extended to law and de Nicola students and faculty.

It was open to Law School and de Nicola Center students and faculty, who will fill the courtroom where it is taking place, and adjoining spaces for overflow invitees, Browne said in an email. There’s a waiting list in the event original ticket holders cancel.

Browne said the invitation to Barr was extended in June.

“This event is co-sponsored by Notre Dame Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture. Invitations from either or both carry considerable weight,” he said. “Both the school and center invite a wide variety of speakers to campus each year. In this case, the attorney general was invited and accepted in June to speak on the subject of religious liberty.”

Barr has recently become a central figure in President Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry. A Sept. 25 report from the New York Times found Trump offered to have Barr assist Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in investigating a Ukrainian company involved in the FBI’s inquiry of Russian interference in the 2016 election. According to the Department of Justice, Barr never discussed the investigation with Ukrainian officials and didn’t learn until months afterward that Trump offered his help to Zelensky.

Barr asked foreign officials for assistance in a Department of Justice investigation intended to “discredit” U.S. intelligence agencies’ findings on Russia’s election interference, the Washington Post also reported on Sept. 30.

On Oct. 2, Barr participated in a panel at Wichita State University where he “hailed Kansas and Wichita-area law enforcement  but would not answer questions about President Trump and impeachment inquiries on Capitol Hill,” according to the Wichita Eagle. Approximately 30 people protested outside the building where he spoke, the Eagle reported.

Browne said protests of Barr’s visit would not be unusual, as other high profile political visitors to campus have been protested in the past.

“Protests are not uncommon when a public figure speaks on a college campus,” he said. “There were protests when President Obama and Vice President Pence were Notre Dame commencement speakers.”

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