Becket Fund leader named to religious freedom panel

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WASHINGTON – The executive director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit legal advocacy group that has defended key civil rights cases, has been appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Speaker Paul Ryan of the U.S. House of Representatives named Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz, a Cuban-American, to join eight other nongovernmental commissioners on the panel. The members review religious-freedom violations abroad and make policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress. Arriaga replaces Robert P. George of Princeton University.

“The daughter of parents who fled Castro’s Cuba, Kristina Arriaga has dedicated her life to the liberty of others,” Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said in a statement. “Her voice and experiences as a freedom fighter make Kristina a great addition to the commission.”

“My late father would be very proud to know I will serve on a commission that defends the same right that was stripped away from him and precisely the reason he fled Cuba – religious liberty,”  Arriaga said in a statement provided by the Becket Fund. She joined the Washington-based group in 1995.

Fund lawyers have played active roles in high-profile court cases within the past year, including representing the Little Sisters of the Poor in a fight over providing insurance coverage for contraceptive care. The battle recently went before the U.S. Supreme Court as part of the Zurbik v. Burwell case. Becket lawyers also successfully represented U.S. Army Capt. Simratpal Singh against a Pentagon rule barring soldiers on duty from wearing turbans and beards.

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter @karabettis.