What is The Religion Clauses?

The Religion Clauses is an interdisciplinary conference that I have convened to explore current and future trends in the First Amendment’s free exercise and establishment clauses. It is cosponsored by Washington University School of Law, the Washington University Law Review, and the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics.

Who is speaking?

We are delighted to have some of the foremost experts on the religion clauses joining us, including:

What will be the focus of the conference?

The conference will focus on recent developments at the intersection of the First Amendment’s religion clauses. Courts and commentators have long observed that these clauses “often exert conflicting pressures” (Cutter v. Wilkinson). Sometimes, the two clauses support the same result (Hosanna Tabor). Other times, Establishment Clause concerns about “third party harms” may create tensions with Free Exercise claims (Hobby Lobby, Masterpiece Cakeshop). When it comes to government funding of religion, the elusive quest for “neutrality” often disappoints: the Establishment Clause permits some forms of government funding of religion (Widmar v. Vincent, Rosenberger v. Virginia), but the Free Exercise Clause does not require such funding (Locke v. Davey) except when it does (Trinity Lutheran v. Comer). We would like to explore the current state of the tension between free exercise and establishment, and to assess where this tension is heading. We also want to consider what the other rights of the First Amendment (speech, press, religion, and assembly) have to say about this tension.

Can I attend?

Yes, the conference is free and open to the public. It will take place in the Bryan Cave Courtroom at Washington University School of Law on January 24, 2020.

Will the proceedings be recorded?

We do not anticipate recording presentations, but each speaker will base their remarks on drafts of articles that will be published in a special symposium edition of the Washington University Law Review.