The Religion Clauses

Law Symposium

Interdisciplinary conference to explore current and future trends in the First Amendment’s free exercise and establishment clauses.



Anheuser-Busch Hall Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom Washington University in St. Louis

One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130


  • Freedom of Association: Campus Religious Groups

    Keynote Lecture by Professor Michael McConnell for “The Religion Clauses” Conference. (January 24, 2020)

The Religion Clauses is an interdisciplinary conference 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.

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.

The conference is free and open to all. Your RSVP to or (314) 935-9345 is appreciated for planning purposes.

Conference Schedule
Bryan Cave Courtroom in Anheuser-Busch Hall of Washington University School of Law

9:15 – 9:20 a.m.:  Introduction and Welcome by Ryan Lundquist (Washington University in St. Louis)

9:20 – 9:25 a.m.:  Overview by John Inazu (Washington University in St. Louis)

9:25 – 10:25 a.m.:  Panel 1 moderated by Elizabeth Katz (Washington University in St. Louis)

Marc DeGirolami (St. John’s University School of Law), “First Amendment Traditionalism”
Christopher Lund (Wayne State University School of Law), “Thornton v. Caldor, Thirty Years On”

10:25 – 10:45 a.m.:  Break

10:45 – 11:45 a.m.:  Panel 2 moderated by Chad Flanders (Saint Louis University School of Law)

Stephanie Barclay (BYU School of Law), “Untangling Entanglement”
Ashutosh Bhagwat (UC Davis School of Law), “Establishment Clause Standing after American Legion”

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.:  Break

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.:  Keynote Address by Michael McConnell (Stanford Law School), “Freedom of Association: Campus Religious Groups”

1:00 – 1:45 p.m.:  Break

1:45 – 2:45 p.m.:  Panel 3 moderated by Anna Bialek (Washington University in St. Louis)

Gabrielle Girgis (Princeton University), “Substantial Burdens under RFRA”
Michael Helfand (Pepperdine University School of Law), “At the Crossroads of Religion and Contract: Making Room for Private Law”

2:45 – 3:00 p.m.:  Break

3:00 – 4:00 p.m.:  Panel 4 moderated by Daniel Epps (Washington University in St. Louis)

Richard Garnett (University of Notre Dame Law School), “‘Soft State Power’ and the Institutional Dimension of Religious Freedom”
Jessie Hill (Case Western Reserve University School of Law), “Reconsidering Hostile Takeover”

4:00 – 4:10 p.m.:  Closing by John Inazu (Washington University in St. Louis)

4:15 – 5:15 p.m.:  Reception, Crowder Courtyard in Anheuser-Busch Hall


  • Michael McConnell

  • Elizabeth Katz

  • Marc DeGirolami

  • Christopher Lund

  • Chad Flanders

  • Stephanie Barclay

  • Ashutosh Bhagwat

  • Fannie Bialek

    Assistant Professor of Religion and Politics

  • Gabrielle Girgis

  • Michael Helfand

  • Daniel Epps

  • Richard Garnett

  • Jessie Hill

  • John D. Inazu

    Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law & Religion and Professor of Political Science (by courtesy)