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Tuesday August 4th 2015

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UVa’s Douglas Laycock Argues at Supreme Court

University of Virginia Law School professor Douglas Laycock argued his fourth Supreme Court case the week of November 4th. The case, Town of Greece v. Galloway, concerned the religious liberty of US citizens. Laycock, who teaches courses on religion and law and remedies at UVA, has been in the practice of law for thirty-five years.

His first foray into the field of religion and law was “serendipitous.” While teaching in Chicago, he was asked by a student editor of a law review to write an article on civil rights and liberties. “I stumbled into the field, but it’s obviously held my interest,” said Laycock.  “I believe that we [who are in this this field] protect the religious liberty of all Americans.”

Laycock received his law degree from the University of Chicago. He clerked for a federal judge, and after a move to Texas with his wife, University president Theresa Sullivan, they ended up back at Chicago, where he began teaching law. “I didn’t think I would enjoy teaching,” said Laycock, “but I loved it.”

When asked about for advice to undergrads looking for law careers, Laycock was practical. “The job market is still not good in the wake of the 2008 [economic] crash,” he said. “But if you are really interested in the practice of law, it makes sense to go to law school. This is how we as a nation solve our disputes, and there are lots of good careers in law.” In particular, Laycock recommended a number of courses in the College on the body of law, which are taught by reading cases. “You can get a sense of whether or not you like law or not through these courses – if you don’t like reading cases, odds are that law is not for you,” he advised.

The suit regarding Town of Greece v. Galloway came up when two town citizens, Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens, challenged the town of Greece regarding the constitutionality of a prayer that was said before town council meetings. Laycock, who represented Galloway and Stephens, argued that the meeting prayer was heavily Christian and coercive, something that violated the religious liberty of everyone in town. A ruling is expected from the Court in summer 2014.