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MSU College of Law



October 5, 2011


MSU Law Trustee Douglas Laycock Argues Before U.S. Supreme Court

East Lansing, MI — Michigan State University College of Law Trustee Douglas Laycock appeared before the nation’s highest court today in a major case involving church–state relations.

Laycock, a leading expert on the law of religious liberty, represents the Plymouth, Michigan, church in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The case examines the boundaries of the “ministerial exception” to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The doctrine, which is rooted in the First Amendment’s guarantees of religious freedom, bars most employment-related lawsuits against religious entities by employees performing religious functions.

Laycock argued that church policy—not the Americans with Disabilities Act—controls in the case involving a teacher who was fired after a disability-related leave of absence. The teacher was a commissioned minister in the church who taught both secular and religious content and regularly led students in prayer and worship. The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether the ADA’s ministerial exception applies.

Douglas Laycock, a 1970 graduate of The Honors College at Michigan State University, was elected to the MSU College of Law Board of Trustees in September 2010. Trustee Laycock is the Armistead M. Dobie Professor of Law and Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, and the Alice McKean Young Regents Chair in Law Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin, where he served for 25 years. He has published extensively on religious liberty and other constitutional law issues, as well as on the law of remedies. He has extensive appellate litigation experience, including in the U.S. Supreme Court, and has played a key role in developing state and federal religious liberty legislation. Laycock also is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a vice president of the American Law Institute.

Michigan State University College of Law, a leading institution of legal education with a long history of educating practice-ready attorneys, prepares future lawyers to use ethics, ambition, and intellect to solve the world’s problems. As one of only a few private law schools affiliated with a major research university, MSU Law offers comprehensive interdisciplinary opportunities combined with a personalized legal education. After 100 years as a private and independent institution, the affiliation with MSU has put the Law College on an upward trajectory of national and international reputation and reach. MSU Law professors are gifted teachers and distinguished scholars, its curriculum is rigorous and challenging, and its facility is equipped with the latest resources—all affirming MSU Law’s commitment to educating 21st-century lawyers.


320 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824

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