Douglas Laycock

  • Class of 1963 Research Professor in honor of Graham C. Lilly and Peter W. Low
  • Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law
  • Professor of Religious Studies

Douglas Laycock is perhaps the nation’s leading authority on the law of religious liberty and also on the law of remedies. He has taught and written about these topics for more than four decades at the University of Chicago, the University of Texas, the University of Michigan and now Virginia.

Laycock has testified frequently before Congress and has argued many cases in the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, where he has served as lead counsel in six cases and has also filed influential amicus briefs. He is the author (co-author in the most recent edition) of the leading casebook Modern American Remedies, the award-winning monograph The Death of the Irreparable Injury Rule and many articles in leading law reviews. He co-edited a collection of essays, Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty.

His many writings on religious liberty have been republished in a five-volume collection:

  • Religious Liberty Volume One: Overviews and History
  • Religious Liberty Volume Two: The Free Exercise Clause
  • Religious Liberty Volume Three: Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, Same-Sex Marriage Legislation, and the Culture Wars
  • Religious Liberty Volume Four: Federal Legislation After the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, with More on the Culture Wars
  • Religious Liberty Volume Five: The Free Speech and Establishment Clauses

Laycock resigned from the Council and as first vice president of the American Law Institute to become co-reporter for the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Remedies. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He earned his B.A. from Michigan State University and his J.D. from the University of Chicago.

Scholarship Profile: "A Towering Figure" (Virginia Journal 2011)




  • J.D.
    University of Chicago Law School
  • B.A.
    Michigan State University

Works in Progress

Restatement (Third) of Torts: Remedies (with Richard L. Hasen & American Law Institute), American Law Institute Publishers (2020-2022 ed. 2022).


Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts (edited with Anthony M. Picarello, Robin Fretwell Wilson), Rowman and Littlefield (2008).
The Death of the Irreparable Injury Rule, Oxford University Press (1991).


Modern American Remedies: Cases and Materials, 2020 Supplement (with Richard L. Hasen), Wolters Kluwer (5 ed. 2021).
Modern American Remedies: Cases and Materials (with Richard L. Hasen), Wolters Kluwer (5 ed. 2019).
Modern American Remedies: Cases and Materials, Concise 5th ed. (with Richard L. Hasen), Wolters Kluwer (Concise 5th ed. 2019).

Book Chapters

Liberty and Justice For All, in Religious Freedom, LGBT Rights, and the Prospects for Common Ground, Cambridge University Press, 24-37 (2019).
Opening Essay: Protecting Religious Liberty in the Culture Wars, in Deep Commitments: The Past, Present, and Future of Religious Liberty, Cato Institute, 21-33 (2017).
Religious Liberty, Health Care, and the Culture Wars, in Law, Religion, and Health in the United States, Cambridge University Press, 21-33 (2017).
Protecting Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty (with Thomas C. Berg), in Religion and Equality: Law in Conflict, Routledge, 167-182 (2016).
The Campaign against Religious Liberty, in The Rise of Corporate Religious Liberty, Oxford University Press, 231-255 (2016).
Religious Liberty Is a Secular Liberal Value, in Free to Serve: Protecting the Religious Freedom of Faith-Based Organizations, Brazos Press, 160-163 (2015).
Remedies, in The Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History, Oxford University Press (2009).
Afterword, in Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts, Rowman and Littlefield, 189-208 (2008).
Desegregation, Affirmative Action, and the Ten-Percent Law, in The Texas Book: Profiles, History, and Reminiscences of the University, University of Texas Press (2006).
Employment in Religious Organizations (with Patrick J. Schiltz), in Religious Organizations in the United States: A Study of Identity, Liberty, and the Law, Carolina Academic Press, 527-563 (2006).
Protecting Liberty in a Federal System: The US Experience, in Patterns of Federalism and Regionalism: Lessons for the UK, Hart Publishing, 119-148 (2006).
La Religion et l’État aux États-Unis: Affrontement des Théories et Changements Historiques, in La Conception Américaine de la Laïcité , Dalloz (2005).
Zoning (with Thomas C. Berg), in Encyclopedia of Religious Freedom, Routledge (2003).
Introduction, in Hopwood v. Texas Litigation Documents, William S. Hein & Co., xv-xxiv (2002).
Closing Remarks, in Charles Alan Wright: The Man and the Scholar: A Tribute, Jamail Center for Legal Research University of Texas School of Law, 43 (2000).
Theories of Interpretation: Free Exercise and Establishment Clause: General, in Religion and American Law: An Encyclopedia, Garland (2000).
Supreme Court Review, in United States Catholic Conference, Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth National Meeting of Diocesan Attorneys, 5 (1998).
Original Intent and the Constitution Today, in The First Freedom: Religion and the Bill of Rights, J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies, 87-112 (1 ed. 1990).
Tort Liability, Spiritual Counseling, and the First Amendment, in Tort and Religion, American Bar Association, 23 (1990).
The Right to Church Autonomy as Part of Free Exercise of Religion , in Government Intervention in Religious Affairs, II, The Pilgrim Press, 28-39 (1986).

Articles & Reviews

Doug Rendleman and the Law of Remedies, 78 Washington & Lee Law Review 28-32 (2021).
A Tribute to Professor Doug Rendleman (with al. et), 78 Washington & Lee Law Review 1, 28-32 (2021).
Protecting Free Exercise Under Smith and After Smith (with Thomas C. Berg), 2020-2021 Cato Supreme Court Review 33 (2021).
The Right to Be Wrong, First Things (2020).
Espinoza, Government Funding, and Religious Choice (with Thomas C. Berg), 35 Journal of Law and Religion 361-379 (2020).
Book Review (reviewing Robin Fretwell Wilson ed., The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law) 61 Journal of Church and State 332 (2019).
Legislators on Executive-Branch Boards Are Unconstitutional, Period, 28 William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 1-22 (2019).
The Broader Implications of Masterpiece Cakeshop, 2019 Brigham Young University Law Review 167-204 (2019).
The Wedding-Vendor Cases, 41 Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 49-66 (2018).
Churches, Playgrounds, Government Dollars—and Schools?, 131 Harvard Law Review 133-169 (2017).
Generally Applicable Law and the Free Exercise of Religion (with Steven T. Collis), 95 Nebraska Law Review 1-27 (2016).
Review of Thomas E. Buckley, Establishing Religious Freedom: Jefferson’s Statute in Virginia (reviewing Thomas E. Buckley, Establishing Religious Freedom: Jefferson’s Statute in Virginia) 77 Theological Studies 743-744 (2016).
Gay Rights and Religious Freedom: Can We Find Common Ground? (with Abba Cohen et al.), Moment (2014).
Imaginary Contradictions: A Reply to Professor Oleske, 67 Vanderbilt Law Review En Banc 89-96 (2014).
Religious Liberty and the Culture Wars, 2014 University of Illinois Law Review 839-880 (2014).
Edward Schempp and His Family, 38 Journal of Supreme Court History 63-79 (2013).
Protecting Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty (with Thomas C. Berg), 99 Virginia Law Review in Brief 1-9 (2013).
Hosanna-Tabor and the Ministerial Exception, 35 Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 839-862 (2012).
Restoring Restitution to the Canon (reviewing American Law Institute, Restatement (Third) of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment) 110 Michigan Law Review 929-952 (2012).
RLUIPA: Necessary, Modest, and Under-Enforced (with Luke W. Goodrich), 39 Fordham Urban Law Journal 1021-1072 (2012).
Reviews of a Lifetime, 89 Texas Law Review 949-966 (2011).
Sex, Atheism, and the Free Exercise of Religion, 88 University of Detroit Mercy Law Review 407-432 (2011).
Church Autonomy Revisited, 7 Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy 253-278 (2009).
The Religious Exemption Debate, 11 Rutgers Journal of Law & Religion 139-176 (2009).
Voting with Your Feet is No Substitute for Constitutional Rights, 32 Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 29-44 (2009).
How Remedies Became a Field: A History, 27 Review of Litigation 161-268 (2008).
A Syllabus of Errors, 105 Michigan Law Review 1169-1188 (2007).
God vs. The Gavel: A Brief Rejoinder, 105 Michigan Law Review 1545-1550 (2007).
Substantive Neutrality Revisited, 110 West Virginia Law Review 51-88 (2007).
Church and State in the United States: Competing Conceptions and Historic Changes, 13 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 503-542 (2006).
Roundtable Discussion: Religious Organizations Filing for Bankruptcy (with Samuel J. Gerdano et al.), 13 American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review 25-58 (2005).
The Many Meanings of Separation, 70 University of Chicago Law Review 1667-1700 (2003).
Religion in the Workplace: Proceedings of the 2000 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Law and Religion (with Joanne C. Brant et al.), 4 Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal 87-140 (2000).
State RFRAs and Land Use Regulation, 2000 Zoning and Planning Law Handbook 655 (2000).
The Clear and Present Danger Test, 25 Journal of Supreme Court History 161-186 (2000).
The Supreme Court and Religious Liberty, 40 Catholic Lawyer 25-58 (2000).
State RFRAs and Land Use Regulation, 32 UC Davis Law Review 755-784 (1999).
Conceptual Gulfs in City of Boerne v. Flores, 39 William & Mary Law Review 743-792 (1998).
Federalism As a Structural Threat to Liberty, 22 Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 67-84 (1998).
Religious Freedom and International Human Rights in the United States Today, 12 Emory International Law Review 951-972 (1998).
Round Table Discussion on International Human Rights Standards in the United States: The Case of Religion or Belief (with Abdullah An-Na’im et al.), 12 Emory International Law Review 973-1020 (1998).
The Boerne Case: Redefining Religious Liberty, 20 NCJW Journal 12 (1997).
Foreword: Charles Alan Wright and the University of Texas School of Law, 32 Texas International Law Journal 367-380 (1997).
The Underlying Unity of Separation and Neutrality, 46 Emory Law Journal 43-74 (1997).
Book Note (reviewing Jesse Choper, Securing Religious Liberty: Principles for Judicial Interpretation of the Religion Clauses) 44 Political Studies 1015 (1996).
Freedom of Speech That Is Both Religious and Political, 29 UC Davis Law Review 793-814 (1996).
Religious Liberty as Liberty, 7 Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues 313-356 (1996).
Academic Freedom, Religious Commitment, and Religious Integrity, 78 Marquette Law Review 297-312 (1995).
RFRA, Congress, and the Ratchet, 56 Montana Law Review 145-170 (1995).
The Church-State Game: A Symposium on Kiryas Joel (with William Bentley Ball, Nathan Lewin & Michael W. McConnell), First Things 36 (1994).
Free Exercise and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 62 Fordham Law Review 883-904 (1994).
Interpreting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (with Oliver S. Thomas), 73 Texas Law Review 209-246 (1994).
Due Process of Law in Trilateral Disputes, 78 Iowa Law Review 1011-1028 (1993).
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 1993 Brigham Young University Law Review 221-28 (1993).
The Rights of Religious Academic Communities, 20 Journal of College & University Law 15-42 (1993).
The Triumph of Equity, 56 Law & Contemporary Problems 53-82 (1993).
How to Restore Religious Freedom: A Debate (with W. Cole, Durham, Edward McGlynn Gaffney & Michael W. McConnell), First Things 48 (1992).
A Declaration: For the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (with W. Cole, Durham, Edward McGlynn Gaffney & Michael W. McConnell), First Things 42 (1992).
Summary and Synthesis: The Crisis in Religious Liberty, 60 George Washington Law Review 841-856 (1992).
The Benefits of the Establishment Clause, 42 DePaul Law Review 373-382 (1992).
An Open Letter on Religious Freedom (with Edward Gaffney & Michael McConnell), First Things 44 (1991).
Book Review (reviewing Robert H. Bork, The Tempting of America) 101 Ethics 661 (1991).
That and Which, 2 Scribes Journal of Legal Writing 37-48 (1991).
The Declaration is Not Law, Christian Legal Society Quarterly 8 (1991).
Vicious Stereotypes in Polite Society, 8 Constitutional Commentary 395-409 (1991).
Notes on the Role of Judicial Review, the Expansion of Federal Power, and the Structure of Constitutional Rights (reviewing Robert F. Nagel, Constitutional Cultures: The Mentality and Consequences of Judicial Review) 99 Yale Law Journal 1711-1748 (1990).
Review of Yorio, Contract Enforcement (reviewing Edward I. Yorio, Contract Enforcement: Specific Performance and Injunctions) 455 Business Lawyer 1377-1380 (1990).
Text, Intent, and the Religion Clauses, 4 Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics, & Public Policy 683-698 (1990).
The Death of the Irreparable Injury Rule, 103 Harvard Law Review 687-771 (1990).
The Maroonbook v. The Bluebook: A Comparative Review (reviewing University of Chicago Manual of Legal Citation; A Uniform System of Citation (14th ed.)) 1 Scribes Journal of Legal Writing 181-190 (1990).
The Remnants of Free Exercise, 1990 Supreme Court Review 1-68 (1990).
Why the First-Year Legal Writing Course Cannot Do Much About Bad Legal Writing, 1 Scribes Journal of Legal Writing 83-86 (1990).
The Scope and Significance of Restitution, 67 Texas Law Review 1277-1293 (1989).
Book Note (reviewing Mark Tushnet, Red, White, and Blue: A Critical Analysis of Constitutional Law) 31 Journal of Church and State 303 (1989).
Academic Freedom and the Free Exercise of Religion (with Susan E. Waelbroeck), 66 Texas Law Review 1455-1476 (1988).
Reflections on Two Themes: Teaching Religious Liberty and Evolutionary Changes in Casebooks (reviewing John T. Noonan, Jr., The Believer and the Powers That Are: Cases, History, and Other Data Bearing on the Relation of Religion and Government) 101 Harvard Law Review 1642-1656 (1988).
Consent Decrees Without Consent: The Rights of Nonconsenting Third Parties, 1987 University of Chicago Legal Forum 103-154 (1987).
Constitutional Theory Matters, 65 Texas Law Review 767-776 (1987).
Equality and the Citizens of Sister States, 15 Florida State University Law Review 431-448 (1987).
A Survey of Religious Liberty in the United States, 47 Ohio State Law Journal 409-452 (1986).
Responding to the Nonpreferentialists (reviewing Thomas Curry, The First Freedoms & Leonard Levy’s The Establishment Clause) 4 Journal of Law and Religion 241 (1986).
Statistical Proof and Theories of Discrimination, 60 Law & Contemporary Problems 97-106 (1986).
The Ultimate Unity of Rights and Utilities, 64 Texas Law Review 407-414 (1985).
The Efficient Use of Group Averages as Nondiscrimination: A Rejoinder to Professor Benston (with Lea Brilmayer & Teresa A. Sullivan), 50 University of Chicago Law Review 222-249 (1983).
A Case Study in Pedagogical Neglect, 92 Yale Law Journal 188-202 (1982).
Sex Discrimination as Actuarial Equality: A Rejoinder to Kimball (with Teresa A. Sullivan), 1981 American Bar Foundation Research Journal 221-228 (1981).
Sex Discrimination in Employer-Sponsored Insurance Plans:  A Legal and Demographic Analysis (with Lea Brilmayer, Richard W. Hekeler & Theresa A. Sullivan), 47 University of Chicago Law Review 505-560 (1980).
Injunctions and the Irreparable Injury Rule (reviewing Owen M. Fiss, The Civil Rights Injunction) 57 Texas Law Review 1065-1084 (1979).
Catholic Schools and Teachers' Unions, 140 America 406 (1979).
Federal Interference with State Prosecutions: The Cases Dombrowski Forgot, 46 University of Chicago Law Review 636-688 (1979).
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, 54 Chicago-Kent Law Review 390-436 (1977).

Reports & Datasets

Statement, Faith-Based Initiatives: Recommendations of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Community Partnerships and Other Current Issues US Government Printing Office 34-52, 193 (2010).
Report of the Task Force on Assembly and Expression University of Texas at Austin (2003).
Submission, Confirmation Hearings on Federal Appointments, S. Hrg. 107-584 US Government Printing Office 737-744 (2002).
Statement, Hearing on Issues Relating to Religious Liberty Protection, and Focusing on the Constitutionality of a Religious Protection Measure, S. Hrg. 106-689 US Government Printing Office 143-159 (1999).
Statement , Religious Liberty Protection Act of 1999, HR 1691 US Government Printing Office 100-121 (1999).
Statement , Religious Liberty Protection Act of 1998, S. 2148, S. Hrg. 105-997 US Government Printing Office 49-70 (1998).
Statement , Religious Liberty Protection Act of 1998, HR 4019 US Government Printing Office 6-20, 222 (1998).
Statement , Religious Liberty and Charitable Donations Protections Act of 1997 and Religious Fairness in Bankruptcy Act of 1997 US Government Printing Office 30-40 (1998).
Statement , Congress' Constitutional Role in Protecting Religious Liberty US Government Printing Office 4-13, 55 (1997).
Statement , Bankruptcy Issues in Review: The Bankruptcy Code's Effect on Religious Freedom and a Review of the Need for Additional Bankruptcy Judgeships, S. Hrg. 105-392 US Government Printing Office 23-28 (1997).
Statement , Protecting Religious Freedom After Boerne v. Flores US Government Printing Office 46-58 (1997).
Statement , Religious Liberty: Examining the Status of Religious Liberty in the United States and Whether There Is a Need for Further Legal Protection, S. Hrg. 104-758 US Government Printing Office 66-75 (1995).
Statement , The Effect of the EEOC's Proposed Guidelines on Religion in the Workplace, S. Hrg. 103-1072 US Government Printing Office 37-51 (1994).
Statement , The Religious Freedom Restoration Act S. 2969, S. Hrg. 102-1076 US Government Printing Office 63-98 (1992).
Statement , Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1991 US Government Printing Office 326-371 (1992).
Letter to Chairman Don Edwards , Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1990 US Government Printing Office 72-79 (1990).
Letter (with Sanford V. Levinson), Nomination of Robert H. Bork to Be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, S. Hrg. 100-1011 pt. 5 US Government Printing Office 6099-6103 (1987).
Statement , Nondiscrimination in Insurance Act of 1983 US Government Printing Office 546-620 (1983).
Statement , Fair Insurance Practices Act US Government Printing Office 19-34 (1982).
Statement , Nondiscrimination in Insurance US Government Printing Office 287-367 (1980).

Op-Eds, Blogs, Shorter Works

Protecting Free Exercise Under Smith and After Smith (with Thomas Berg), SCOTUSblog (June 19, 2021).
Religious Practice in a Pandemic, New York Times A25 (October 10, 2020).
Douglas Laycock replies, First Things (August, 2020).
Implementing Compromise, Balkinization (July 21, 2020).
Free Speech in the Pulpit, Christian Century 10-11 (March 15, 2017).
A Case That Puts Religious Liberty at Risk, Washington Post A17 (March 21, 2016).
Dicta: After Obergefell, 68 Virginia Law Weekly Dicta 1 (October 21, 2015).
Religious Liberty at the Founding, Constitution Daily (September 15, 2015).
Embrace the Religious Exemption, New York Times (March 24, 2014).
What Arizona SB1062 Actually Said, Volokh Conspiracy (February 27, 2014).
What Is the Future of Religious Freedom in the United States (with Jacques Berlinerblau et al.), Moment 31 (March, 2013).
Clause for Concern, Cavalier Daily (September 16, 2012).
The Bishops & Religious Liberty, Commonweal 15-17 (June 15, 2012).
Is Teaching Intelligent Design Illegal? (with Francis J. Beckwith), Legal Affairs Debate Club (September 26, 2005).
How to Be Religiously Neutral, Legal Times (July 4, 2005).
On Top 10-Percent Law, Let's Alter It, Not Toss It, Austin American-Statesman (March 23, 2005).
Judicial Nominations in a Divided Government, Austin American-Statesman A15 (October 9, 2002).
Forging Ideological Compromise, New York Times A31 (September 18, 2002).
Vouching Toward Bethlehem, Religion in the News (2002).
The Damage Done, Texas Lawyer (December 31, 2001).
Affirmative Action: A Real-World Solution, Austin American-Statesman A15 (July 13, 2001).
Replies to Thomson's "Abortion", 20 Boston Review 31 (October, 1995).
Religious Harassment or Free Speech? Few Answers from EEOC, Chicago Tribune 21N (June 17, 1994).
UT's Color-Conscious System, Texas Lawyer 20 (November 29, 1993).
What Hillary Clinton Really Said, Wall Street Journal A15 (September 16, 1992).
Neutrality Needed: Founders Rejected Endorsement of Religion, 46 Report from the Capital 4 (September, 1991).
Minority Faculty Issue Clouded by Bias, Daily Texan (July 10, 1990).
The Students Won! Supreme Court Enforces Equal Access Act, 11 Christian Legal Society Quarterly 17 (1990).
Watering Down the Free-Exercise Clause, 107 Christian Century 518 (May, 1990).
Peyote, Wine, and the First Amendment, 106 Christian Century 876 (October 4, 1989).
Philosophy Is Enough to Deny Senate Consent (with Sanford V. Levinson), USA Today 10A (September 15, 1987).
Bible Chairs Program Aids Religion, Daily Texan 4 (December 10, 1985).
Founders Wanted Total Neutrality, USA Today 8A (August 12, 1985).
Texas Law Professor Clarifies a Paraphrase (letter to editor), National Law Journal (February 4, 1985).
Church Leaders Can Speak (letter to editor), Daily Texan (July 22, 1983).
UT Insurance Plan Unfair, Daily Texan 4 (June 7, 1983).
"La Difference" in Insurance (letter to editor), Wall Street Journal 25 (October 27, 1982).
Atheist's Point Is a Valid One (with Sanford V. Levinson), Daily Texan 4 (February 26, 1982).
Proselytizing Is Permissible (letter to editor), Daily Texan 4 (October 5, 1981).
First Amendment Misunderstood (letter to editor), Daily Texan 4 (September 24, 1981).

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