Von G. Keetch

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Von G. Keetch
First Quorum of the Seventy
April 4, 2015 (2015-04-04)
Personal details
Born (1960-03-17) March 17, 1960 (age 57)
Provo, Utah, United States
Alma mater J. Reuben Clark Law School (J.D.)
Brigham Young University (B.A.)
Occupation Lawyer, law professor

Von Gary Keetch (born March 17, 1960) has been a general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) since April 2015.[1] He is a shareholder in the law firm of Kirton & McConkie and a member of the firm's Constitutional, Religious and Appellate Practice section. He has defended land use rights of religious groups against state regulations, and has argued against liability of religious groups for crimes committed by their members.

Early life[edit]

Keetch was born in Provo, Utah. He was raised in Orem, Utah and Pleasant Grove, Utah. He met Bernice Pymm, whom he would later marry, while they were both in high school.[2] As a young man, he served as a missionary for the LDS Church in the Germany Düsseldorf Mission.[3]

Education and legal career[edit]

Keetch holds a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University (BYU) and a law degree from the J. Reuben Clark Law School. He was the managing editor of the BYU Law Review from 1986 to 1987 and has been an adjunct law professor at BYU. Keetch served as a clerk to federal appellate judge George C. Pratt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as well as Chief Justice Warren Burger and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court of the United States.[4] Keetch was clerk to Scalia when Scalia wrote the ruling in Employment Division v. Smith, a ruling Keetch has worked to overturn or at least lessen in impact ever since.[5]

Keetch has served as a member of Utah's Appellate Court Nominating Commission, a position to which he was appointed by former Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr..[6]

Keetch has also been an instructor at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, where one of his students was Mike Lee.

Keetch, along with Matthew K. Richards, co-wrote "The Need for Legislation to enshrine religious liberty in the Land Use Context". This is one of the leading works cited by religious freedom advocacy groups such as the Becket Fund.[7]

Keetch along with Alexander Dushku, also of Kirton & McConkie, have filed many cases related to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.[8] In 2007 they presented an amicus curiae brief to the United States Supreme Court in behalf of a large coalition of religious organizations in defense of a broad interpretation of burdening of religious freedom.[9]

Representing the LDS Church[edit]

Keetch served for many years as chief outside legal counsel to the LDS Church. He represented the church in cases involving suits over sexual molestation of one member towards another.[10] He has also been involved in several other lawsuits along these lines related to questions of clerical reporting and responsibility. In another case in Washington, Keetch was the church's lawyer in a case where the church was sued because a bishop had failed to report accusations of sexual abuse by a girl in his ward, yet Washington law does not require clergy to report such allegations.[11] In 2010 Keetch responded to Marci Hamilton's claims that the LDS response to child sexual abuse was on the same level of the Catholic Church. Keetch pointed out the help-line to aid bishops in dealing with abuse, and various other polices and actions the Church took on the matter.[12]

Keetch has also made statements for the church in regard to the Boy Scouts of America.[13] Keetch was one of the lawyers involved in the LDS Church's attempts to overcome the overbearing zoning restrictions in West Linn, Oregon.[14] Keetch filed the amicus briefs in early 2013 for the church in favor of both California Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act being upheld by the United States Supreme Court as constitutional.[15]

Keetch also served as the LDS Church's lawyer in litigation related to the Main Street Plaza case.[16] He was also involved in the church's 2006 settlement with the ACLU over issues at Martin's Cove in Wyoming.[17]

LDS Church service[edit]

Keetch has served in a number of positions of lay leadership in the church, including as president of the BYU 14th Stake (from 2002-2009)[18] and from 2009 to 2015 as an area seventy[19] in the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy.[20] At the church's April 2015 general conference, he was sustained as a general authority and member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. Keetch has worked on inter-faith cooperation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.[21] Since 2015, he has been serving as executive director of the church's Public Affairs Department.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Keetch married Bernice Pymm in 1981. They are the parents of 6 children.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Five new General Authorities sustained during LDS Church's general conference". Church News. 4 April 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-04. .
  2. ^ LDS Church News, May 3, 2015, p. 11
  3. ^ LDS Church News, Apr. 4, 2015
  4. ^ http://www.kmclaw.com/attorneys-Von-Keetch.html
  5. ^ Super Lawyers article on Keetch
  6. ^ "8 named to panel on court nominations". Deseret News. March 22, 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  7. ^ Becket Fund page listing key resources on the RLUIPA
  8. ^ mention of Keetch as defender of religious freedom
  9. ^ http://www.scotusblog.com/movabletype/archives/06-1497_cert_amicus_Baptist.pdf
  10. ^ Niebuhr, Gustav (September 5, 2001), "Sex Abuse Lawsuit Is Settled by Mormons for $3 Million", The New York Times, retrieved 2013-09-10 
  11. ^ report on case
  12. ^ Find Law article by Keetch
  13. ^ http://www.religioustolerance.org/bsa_8.htm
  14. ^ http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/S51504.htm
  15. ^ Gryboski, Michael (February 4, 2013), "Mormon Church Files Briefs in Support of DOMA, Prop. 8", The Christian Post 
  16. ^ Jerry D. Spangler and Lee Davidson (June 24, 2003). "Justices won't go near S.L. Plaza case". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  17. ^ Moore, Carrie A. (June 8, 2006). "ACLU, LDS resolve Martin's Cove dispute". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  18. ^ "New stake presidents". Church News. June 8, 2002. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  19. ^ Uchtdorf, Dieter F. (April 4, 2009). "179th Annual General Conference". Salt Lake City, Utah. Retrieved 2009-06-08.  |contribution= ignored (help)
  20. ^ "The Fifth Quorum of the Seventy". Church News. April 1, 2011. Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  21. ^ ELCA article about inter-faith work with Keetch
  22. ^ "Sabbath observance: General Authorities discuss 'increasing faith in God, Jesus Christ'". Church News. December 23, 2015. Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
  23. ^ LDS Church News, April 4, 2015

External links[edit]