Alex J. Luchenitser
Associate Vice President & Associate Legal Director
Alex Luchenitser is the Associate Vice President & Associate Legal Director at Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Alex has litigated church-state cases throughout the country for Americans United since January 2001. He has led lawsuits challenging religious proselytization of students in public schools, public funding of religious institutions, discriminatory governmental prayer practices, and government-sponsored religious displays. His successful cases include:
- Americans United for Separation of Church & State v. Prison Fellowship Ministries, 509 F.3d 406 (8th Cir. 2007), which ended a state prison’s operation and funding of a program that sought to “rehabilitate” inmates by converting them to a fundamentalist form of Christianity;
- Doe ex rel. Doe v. Elmbrook School District, 687 F.3d 840 (7th Cir. 2012), which stopped a public school district’s practice of holding its high-school graduation ceremonies in an evangelical Christian megachurch underneath a giant cross; and
- Williamson v. Brevard County, 928 F.3d 1296 (11th Cir. 2019), which terminated a county commission’s practice of discriminating in favor of mainstream, monotheistic religions in the selection of speakers to deliver solemnizing messages at the beginning of its meetings.
Alex has also authored and edited numerous friend-of-the-court briefs filed on behalf of Americans United. After the Covid-19 pandemic began, Alex led Americans United’s efforts to fight lawsuits that sought religious exemptions from public-health orders, filing fifty friend-of-the-court briefs in such cases around the country, including six in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Alex was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, in 1969 and immigrated to the United States in 1977. He received his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in government and economics from Harvard University in 1991, and he received his Juris Doctor with distinction from Stanford Law School in 1994. After finishing law school, Alex served two one-year judicial clerkships, with Justice Warren W. Matthews Jr. of the Alaska Supreme Court and U.S. Magistrate Judge Wayne D. Brazil of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Alex then spent four years in private practice in Northern California, participating in the prosecution of class actions on behalf of investors, consumers, and trust beneficiaries.
Alex has spoken about church-state issues in many television and radio appearances and public presentations and has been quoted in numerous major newspapers. His published articles include:
- A Hollow History Test: Why Establishment Clause Cases Should Not Be Decided through Comparisons with Historical Practices, 68 Catholic University Law Review 653 (2019) (co-authored with Sarah R. Goetz);
- “Religious Freedom” as a Tool to Oppress: The Explosion in Religion-Based Attacks on Civil Rights in Litigation, 2016 Social Sciences 5, 52 (Sept. 2016);
- A New Era of Inequality? Hobby Lobby and Religious Exemptions from Anti-Discrimination Laws, 9 Harvard Law & Policy Review 63 (Winter 2015);
- “InnerChange”: Conversion as the Price of Freedom and Comfort—A Cautionary Tale About the Pitfalls of Faith-Based Prison Units, 6 Ave Maria Law Review 445 (Spring 2008); and
- Casting Aside the Constitution: The Trend Toward Government Funding of Religious Social Service Providers, 35 Clearinghouse Review 615 (Jan.-Feb. 2002).
Alex is an active member of the District of Columbia Bar, is an inactive member of the State Bar of California, and has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court; the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Federal, and District of Columbia Circuits; and the U.S. District Courts for the District of Columbia, the Northern District of California, the District of Colorado, the Eastern District of Michigan, and the Eastern District of Wisconsin.