Eric Rothschild is Senior Litigation Counsel at Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Eric is an accomplished trial attorney, with extensive experience litigating religious-freedom and education-rights cases. While working at the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton, he collaborated with Americans United to stop the teaching of creationism in public high schools in Pennsylvania and Georgia. In 2005, he served as lead trial counsel in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, the first case to test the constitutionality of teaching intelligent-design creationism in public-school science class. Judge John Jones, who presided over Kitzmiller, called Eric’s cross-examination of Professor Michael Behe, the lead expert for the defense, “as good a cross examination of an expert witness as I have ever seen. It was textbook.” The New Yorker described the plaintiffs’ presentation of evidence for evolution and against creationism as “the biology class you wished you could have taken.”
More recently, Eric successfully led a team in obtaining a preliminary injunction to secure the rights of refugee children who were being denied education rights by the School District of Lancaster in Pennsylvania. He has also successfully represented an immigrant contesting an INS blood-test requirement because of religious objections; a same-sex couple seeking benefits from a Pennsylvania municipal employer before the Supreme Court recognized marriage equality nationally; and children who had been denied lung transplants under the federal organ-allocation system. And he has prepared amicus curiae briefs in several major Establishment Clause cases.
Before coming to Americans United, Eric was a partner at Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia, where he specialized in complex scientific cases, including the Three Mile Island litigation and cases on behalf of large drug and device manufacturers. He has been recognized as a Pennsylvania “Super Lawyer” every year from 2006 through 2016. He was awarded the 2006 Civil Libertarian of the Year Award by the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the Clarence Darrow and Friends of Darwin Awards from the National Center for Science Education.
Eric received his Bachelor of Arts from Duke University, and his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He clerked for the Honorable Anita B. Brody on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Public Interest Law Center in Philadelphia, having served as Chair of the Board from 2011-15, and is a member of the National Center for Science Education’s Legal Advisory Panel.