Douglas Laycock on Religious Liberty

Douglas Laycock, one of the nation’s leading experts on religious liberty, has completed a comprehensive series of books on the contentious topic of religion and the law, portions of which can be found below. The final three volumes of Religious Liberty were published in November, drawing to a close the five-volume series, which Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. first began to release in 2010. The books span Professor Laycock’s four decades of scholarship and work in the field, including his influence on questions before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Professor Laycock is the Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law and Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, and the Alice McKean Young Regents Chair Emeritus at the University of Texas. He was elected to ALI in October 1983 and to the Council in May 2001. He has served as the Institute’s 1st Vice President since 2015. He is on the Members Consultative Group for the Restatement of the Law of Charitable Nonprofit Organizations and currently serves as an Adviser on Principles of the Law, Student Sexual Misconduct: Procedural Frameworks for Colleges and Universities.

Professor Laycock has testified frequently before Congress and has argued many cases in the courts. At the U.S. Supreme Court, he argued and won Holt v. Hobbes, the 2015 case that determined that the Arkansas Department of Corrections’ policy on beards violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. And more recently, his co-authored amicus brief on Masterpiece Cakeshop is thought to have influenced the Court. The Masterpiece Cakeshop case is also referenced heavily in the third volume of his work Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, Same-Sex Marriage Legislation, and the Culture Wars.

Whereas the first two books in this five-volume series laid the groundwork with “Overviews and History” and “The Free Exercise Clause,” the new editions delve more deeply into recent controversies, the use of the Constitution’s Free Speech and Establishment Clauses in legal briefs, scholarly and popular articles, House testimonies, and written debates.

The third volume presents a documentary history of efforts to enact and implement state and federal Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, to include religious-liberty protections in same-sex marriage legislation, and to protect the rights of both sides in the culture wars. It contains articles in scholarly journals, op-eds for popular audiences, and oral and written arguments. 

Volume four presents a documentary history of the effort to replace the Religious Freedom Restoration Act with the Religious Liberty Protection Act, an effort that failed but led to narrower legislation protecting churches from hostile zoning and protecting the religious rights of prisoners. Documenting culture-war battles over religious liberty and abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage, this volume includes journal articles, testimony to Congress, shorter popular writings, and letters to such political figures as Congressman Bobby Scott and President Barack Obama.

Volume five addresses topics such as Religious liberty cases concerning religious speech in schools, politics, and the workplace, government funding of religious schools and social services and the meaning of separation of church and state.

The following are essay excerpts from the last three volumes in the series:

The Wedding-Vendor Cases
41 Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 49 (2018)

Religious Liberty, Health Care, and the Culture Wars
in Law, Religion, and Health in the United States 21 (Holly Fernandez Lynch et al. eds., Cambridge 2017)

Sex, Atheism, and the Free Exercise of Religion
88 University of Detroit Mercy Law Review 407 (2011)

The Campaign against Religious Liberty
in The Rise of Corporate Religious Liberty 231 (Micah Schwartzman, Chad Flanders, and Zoe Robinson eds., Oxford 2016)

Secularization in the U.S.: Overblown or Underestimated?
Sightings, (Nov. 5, 2015)

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