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Douglas Laycock is Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, and a leading scholar in the areas of religious liberty and the law of remedies.[1] He also currently serves as the 2nd Vice President of the American Law Institute and is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.[2]

Douglas Laycock
EducationMichigan State University
University of Chicago Law School
OccupationUniversity professor
Spouse(s)Teresa A. Sullivan


Laycock received his bachelor's degree from Michigan State University and his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.

Academic careerEdit

He was a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, the University of Texas School of Law, and the University of Michigan Law School, before he joined the faculty of the University of Virginia School of Law in the fall of 2010.[3]

He was a member of the Panel of Academic Contributors for Black's Law Dictionary 8th ed. (West Group, 2004) (ISBN 0-314-15199-0).[4] In addition, he was elected to the American Law Institute in 1983 and was elected to the ALI Council in May 2001. In 2008 and again in 2011, he was elected to three-year terms as ALI's 2nd Vice President.

Legal work and writings on religious libertyEdit

Laycock was one of the people who testified in favor of the Religious Liberty Protection Act of 1998.[5] He has argued that exempting religious practices from regulation is constitutionally a good thing.[6] But he acknowledges limits to such exemptions; he has said that "Of course religious believers have no constitutional right to inflict significant harm on nonconsenting others."[7]

He has represented parties in four Supreme Court cases on religious liberty. He represented the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, successfully defending its right to sacrifice small animals in religious ceremonies.[8] He represented the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Antonio in an unsuccessful defense of Congress's power to enact the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and apply it to the states.[9] And he represented anonymous parents and students in their successful objection to school-sponsored prayer at high school football games.[10] Most recently, he successfully represented Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Church in a case establishing the constitutional status of the ministerial exception.

He is one of three co-editors of the book Same Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty. His own chapter in that volume argues that it is desirable, and usually possible, to protect the liberty of same-sex couples and also protect the liberty of religious conservatives who do not wish to support or facilitate same-sex marriages.[11]

In the field of remedies, he is the author of a casebook, Modern American Remedies,[12] and a monograph, The Death of the Irreparable Injury Rule.[13] He has also written a history of the field.[14]


In 2012, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies and J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University presented Laycock their International Religious Liberty Award.[15]

Personal lifeEdit

He is married to Teresa A. Sullivan, who served as the first female president of the University of Virginia from 2010 to 2018.[16][17]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Black's Law Dictionary 8th ed. (West Group, 2004), p. v.
  5. ^ beginning quote of Laycock testimony
  6. ^ Laycock quote in New York Times article
  7. ^ Douglas Laycock, A Syllabus of Errors, 105 Mich. L. Rev. 1169, 1171 (2007).
  8. ^ Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993).
  9. ^ City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997).
  10. ^ Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000).
  11. ^ Douglas Laycock, Afterword, in Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty 189-205 (Rowman & Littlefield 2008) (Douglas Laycock, Anthony M. Picarello, and Robin Fretwell Wilson, eds.)
  12. ^ Douglas Laycock, Modern American Remedies: Cases and Materials (4th ed., Aspen Law & Publishing 2010)
  13. ^ Douglas Laycock, The Death of the Irreparable Injury Rule (Oxford Univ. Press 1991).
  14. ^ Douglas Laycock, How Remedies Became a Field: A History, 27 Review of Litigation 161 (2008).
  15. ^ "Douglas Laycock Honored at 2012 International Religious Liberty Award Dinner". International Center for Law and Religion Studies. Retrieved 2017-08-14.
  16. ^ University of Virginia Press Release
  17. ^ Colleen Flaherty, Transparency vs. Censorship, Inside Higher Ed, May 29, 2014