L. Martin Nussbaum

L. Martin Nussbaum

mnussbaum@lrrc.com vCard
719.386.3070 fax
90 South Cascade Avenue
Suite 1100
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Martin Nussbaum is co-founder and co-chair of the firm’s Religious Institutions Group.  He represents churches, denominations, ‎religious schools, and a host of other ministries. While he serves as general counsel ‎for many, he also serves as ‎trial counsel, First Amendment counsel, amicus counsel, and ‎consulting counsel in trial and appellate courts and before legislatures around the country.  In 2016, Martin filed briefs in four United States Supreme Court religious liberty cases.

Representative clients include: Catholic archdioceses and dioceses of ‎Boston, Bridgeport, Cheyenne, Colorado Springs, Denver, Jackson, ‎Kansas City, Portland, Pueblo, and Los Angeles; Knights of Columbus; Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day ‎Saints; Mother Angelica and Our Lady of the Angels Monastery; Association of Christian Schools International; Chabad-Lubavitch of Michigan; Catholic Benefits Association; Catholic Insurance Company; Christian Employers Alliance; North American Lutheran Church; ‎Evangelical Christian Credit Union; Father Flanagan's Boys Town; various Episcopal Church dioceses; Colorado Christian ‎University, First United Methodist Church of Colorado Springs; Colorado ‎Springs Christian Schools; New Life Church; Catholic Charities of ‎Pueblo.

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Christian Legal Society, 1985-present
  • Center for Law and Religious Freedom, Case Selection Committee, 2001-2012
  • Federalist Society, 1984-present
  • Legatus, 2012-present
  • Council for National Policy, 2015-present
  • Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, 2016-present
  • National Diocesan Attorneys Association, 2001-present
  • United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Consultant, Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, 2011-present

Representative Matters

  • Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians - United States Department of State (2016) (prepared data base of actions by ISIS constituting genocide against Christians in Syria, Iraq, and Libya; counsel of record for legal brief to Secretary of State John Kerry; oversaw preparation of 277 page report, GENOCIDE AGAINST CHRISTIANS IN THE MIDDLE EAST (March 9, 2016), (available at:  http://www.stopthechristiangenocide.org/en/resources/Genocide-report.pdf); published articles in National Review and Politico as part of successful effort to cause the State Department to issue genocide declaration for religious groups, including Christians, in ISIS-controlled territories; on March 14, 2016, the House of Representatives voted unanimously in favor of genocide declaration; on March 17, 2016, Secretary Kerry issued the requested declaration).
  • Catholic Benefits Association v. Sebelius, No. 14-CV-00240-R and 2014 WL 2522357 (W.D. Okla. 2014) (granting preliminary injunction against federal agencies from enforcing their regulatory mandate that health care plans for over 700 Catholic employers must include coverage for contraceptives, abortion inducing drugs and devices, sterilization, and related counseling).
  • Chabad-Lubavitch of Michigan v. Schuchman, 853 N.W.2d 390 (Mich. Ct. App. 2014) (equitable tolling during exhaustion of ecclesiastical remedies including thirteen years of litigation before three rabbinic panels; Michigan follows Watson v. Jones deference approach for resolving hierarchical religious society’s property dispute with rebellious congregation), 862 N.W.2d 648 rev'd on state law grounds (Mich. 2015), cert. denied (U.S. 2016).
  • Lindeman v. Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 43 F.Supp.3d 1197 (D. Colo. 2014) (summary judgment for church in situation where Sunday School teacher had sexual intercourse with 15-year old girl, holding that there is no fiduciary relationship between Sunday School teacher and visiting student, there is no legal duty for church to hire or to supervise with concern as to teachers after hours, off premises misconduct; perpetrator’s prior domestic strife does not constitute notice of potential heightened risk of child sexual abuse).
  • Dobson v. Sebelius, 38 F.Supp.3d 1245 (D.Colo. 2014) (preliminary injunction granted because Religious Freedom Restoration Act requires exemption for the benefit of Dr. James Dobson and his ministry, Family Talk, from HHS abortifacient mandate).
  • Purdum v. Purdum, 301 P.3d 718 (Kan. App. 2013) (lead counsel where court dismissed on First Amendment church grounds, husband's claim alleging that wife's statements in marriage tribunal of Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas were defamatory).
  • Connecticut House Bill 5473 (led team for Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference and testified at March 2010 Joint Judiciary Committee hearing to defeat bill seeking to retroactively revive time barred childhood sexual abuse claims against Catholic and other non-governmental institutions).
  • Grace Church & St. Stephen's v. Bishop and Diocese of Colorado, Case No. 07CV1971 (El Paso County Dist. Ct., Colorado 2009) (lead counsel in successful five-week trial on behalf of Episcopal Church parish and Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and against secessionist congregation).
  • Spencer v. World Vision, Inc. (9th Cir. 2008) (amicus advocacy on behalf of Christian Legal Society, Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, Center for Public Justice, National Association of Evangelicals, Samaritans Purse, and Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America in arguing for Title VII religious exemption for parachurch ministry).
  • Colorado Christian University v. Weaver, 534 F.3d 1245 (10th Cir. 2008) (First Amendment consulting counsel successfully challenging constitutionality of statute that deprived students of public financial assistance if they attended a "pervasively sectarian" institution and collecting legal fees from the State of Colorado).
  • New Life Church (2006) (general counsel on all matters associated with termination of international evangelical leader, Rev. Ted Haggard).
  • In re Roman Catholic Archbishop of Portland in Oregon, and Successors, a Corporation Sole, U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of Oregon - Case No. 04-37154 elp 11 (First Amendment advocacy for Archdiocese of Portland in first bankruptcy of a Catholic diocese in American history).
  • Colorado House Bill 1090 and Colorado Senate Bill 143 (testimony, strategy, and public relations assistance for the Colorado Catholic Conference in defeating a series of bills proposed in the 2006 session of the Colorado General Assembly that would have the effect of extending or eliminating statutes of limitations for childhood sexual abuse claims against Catholic and other institutions).
  • Melanie H. v. Doe 1, U.S. D.C. - San Diego, Case No. 04CV1596 (WQH (WMC)) (consultant in constitutional challenge against California S.B. 1779 which suspended the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse claims targeting Catholic institutions).
  • James M. Hogan v. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston (Case No. 02-1296H, Suffolk County Superior Court, Massachusetts 2003) (advocacy for Archdiocese of Boston and Bernard Cardinal Law, invoking First Amendment to challenge court's jurisdiction to determine a "reasonably prudent bishop" standard in sexual misconduct cases filed by 360 plaintiffs).
  • Colorado House Bill 1363 (persuading the Colorado legislature to strip the pervasive sectarian test from the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Act and thereby permitting tax-exempt financing without regard to the religious character of the borrower).
  • Colorado v. Sue, ( no. 2000CR37, Park County District Court, Colorado 2002) (triple-murder case in which District Court enforced the Church Autonomy Doctrine by quashing a subpoena which sought to force a Lutheran pastor to testify regarding his counseling and penitential conversations).
  • Hiles v. Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, 437 Mass. 505, 773 N.E.2d 929 (Mass. 2002) (First Amendment Doctrine of Church Autonomy bars civil court jurisdiction over defamation, civil rights, and other claims brought by Episcopal priest and his wife and arising from a church disciplinary process).
  • Colorado Senate Bill 210 (persuading Colorado legislature on behalf of Protestant Coalition to substantially narrow scope of effort to make clergy mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect).
  • Steele v. Industrial Development Board of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, 301 F.3d 401 (6th Cir. 2002) (Establishment Clause does not preclude tax-exempt bond financing for a Church of Christ college; amicus advocacy).
  • Bryce v. Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Colorado, 121 F.Supp. 2d 1327 (D. Colo. 2000), aff'd, 289 F.3d 648 (10th Cir. 2002) (dismissing Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims of youth minister and her partner because Doctrine of Church Autonomy deprives civil courts of jurisdiction to hear such claims; also, Episcopal judge need not recuse himself because of his religion).
  • Williams v. Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, 436 Mass. 574, 766 N.E.2d 820 (2002) (First Amendment Doctrine of Church Autonomy deprives court of jurisdiction over Episcopal priest's claims alleging gender discrimination, harassment, and retaliation).
  • Johnson v. Econ. Dev. Corp. of the County of Oakland, 241 F.3d 501 (6th Cir. 2000) (tax-exempt financing benefiting non-pervasively sectarian religious school is constitutional; amicus advocacy).

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Related Events

Past Events
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  • “The Affordable Care Act, Its Mandates Compromising Religious Employers, and the Rule of Law,” Council for National Policy, July 2016
  • "Material Cooperation and a 'Host of Troubles:' After the Revolution in the Law Regarding Sexual Relationships," February 2015
  • "Civil Unions in Colorado - What It Means for Your Ministry or Church," July 2013


  • Author, "Call ISIL's religious war what it is: Genocide," Politico, March 2016
  • Author, "Little Sisters, Big Stakes," National Review Online, March 2016
  • Co-Author, "Will the Obama Administration Recognize the Legal Evidence of Genocide," National Review Online, March 2016
  • Author, "Little Sisters Of The Poor Refuse Contraception," Investors.com, July 2015
  • Author, "Smoke and Mirrors from HHS: The Freedom to Choose Applies to Conscientious Objectors, Too," National Review Online, August 2014
  • "Church v. State: The Historic Lawsuits Over the HHS Abortifacient/Contraceptive Mandate," Rothgerber, Johnson & Lyons Client Alert, 10/23/2012
  • Author, "The same-sex marriage movement's next goal," Catholic Review, October 2012
  • Author, "The HHS Mandate: Why has the administration picked a fight it is almost sure to lose," National Review Online, August 2012
  • Co-Author, " Morally Compliant Medical Benefits for Ministries," Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie, 03/14/2012
  • Co-Author, "Hosanna-Tabor Supreme Court Argument," Rothgerber, Johnson & Lyons Client Alert, 10/05/2011
  • Co-Author, "Faithful Practice," Published by Colorado Super Lawyers, 03/10/2011
  • Author, "The American River Ganges' Rising," First Things, December 2010
  • Author, "A Response and a Reply to MarciWorld," First Things, March 2009
  • Author, "MarciWorld," First Things, February 2009
  • Author, "Fallen Pastors," The First Freedom, April 2008
  • Author, "Changing the Rules: Selective justice for Catholic institutions," America 13, May 2006


  • The Best Lawyers in America - 2014 "Lawyer of the Year" - Denver Non-Profit/Charities Law, 2011-2019
  • Colorado Super Lawyer - Constitutional Law, Construction Law, Nonprofit Organizations, 2006-2018
  • Chambers USA - Nationwide - First Amendment Litigation, 2016, 2018

Other Info



J.D., University of Texas at Austin School of Law, 1985, Baker & Botts Prize-Outstanding Second Year Student
B.A., University of Notre Dame, 1974, summa cum laude

Bar Admissions

Colorado, 1985

Court Admissions

Colorado State Judicial District Courts
Colorado Court of Appeals
Colorado Supreme Court
U.S. District Court, Colorado
U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Colorado
U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
U.S. Supreme Court
Connecticut Superior Court, Waterbury (pro hac vice)
Connecticut Superior Court, New Haven (pro hac vice)
Kansas Court of Appeals (pro hac vice)
Massachusetts Superior Court (pro hac vice)
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (pro hac vice)
Michigan Court of Appeals (pro hac vice)
Michigan Supreme Court (pro hac vice)
Mississippi Supreme Court (pro hac vice)
Missouri Circuit Court (pro hac vice)
Wyoming District Court (pro hac vice)
U.S. District Court, Johnson Kansas (pro hac vice)
U.S. District Court, Wyoming (pro hac vice)
U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (pro hac vice)
U.S. District Court, Texas (pro hac vice), Northern District
U.S. District Court, Western District of Oklahoma (pro hac vice)
U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit (pro hac vice)
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit (pro hac vice)
U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Oregon (pro hac vice)