Douglas Laycock is a law professor at the University of Virginia, and he is a leading scholar in two fields: the law of remedies and the law of religious liberty.
Laycock received his bachelor's degree from Michigan State University and his J.D. from the University of Chicago. He was a professor at the University of Chicago and at the University of Texas at Austin before he came to the University of Michigan. On January 12, 2010 the University of Virginia School of Law announced that Laycock would be joining its faculty in the fall of 2010. Laycock moved to Virginia along with his wife, Teresa A. Sullivan, who became the first female President of the University of Virginia.
Laycock was one of the people who testified in favor of the Religious Liberty Protection Act of 1998.
Laycock argues that exempting religious practices from regulation is constitutionally a good thing. 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."
Laycock has represented parties in four Supreme Court cases on religious liberty. He represented the Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, successfully defending its right to sacrifice small animals in religious ceremonies. 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. And he represented anonymous parents and students in their successful objection to school-sponsored prayer at high school football games. 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 recently released 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.
In the field of remedies, he is the author of a leading casebook, Modern American Remedies, and a monograph, The Death of the Irreparable Injury Rule. He has also written a history of the field.
In popular culture
Laycock was mentioned on an episode of The Daily Show in conjunction with an interview he gave on gay marriage. Jon Stewart commented that his last name was perfect for someone discussing gay marriage.
- beginning quote of Laycock testimony
- Black's Law Dictionary 8th ed. (West Group, 2004), p. v.
- Laycock quote in New York Times article
- Douglas Laycock, A Syllabus of Errors, 105 Mich. L. Rev. 1169, 1171 (2007).
- Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993).
- City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997).
- Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000).
- 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.)
- Douglas Laycock, Modern American Remedies: Cases and Materials (4th ed., Aspen Law & Publishing 2010)
- Douglas Laycock, The Death of the Irreparable Injury Rule (Oxford Univ. Press 1991).
- Douglas Laycock, How Remedies Became a Field: A History, 27 Review of Litigation 161 (2008).