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2012 Religious Liberty HonorThe 2012 International Religious Liberty Award was presented to Professor Douglas Laycock at a dinner 11 October 2012 at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington DC. The award is given annually by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University to a person who has made a significant impact in the efforts to preserve and defend religious liberty. Professor Laycock was accompanied by his wife Teresa Sullivan, President of the University of Virginia. The keynote speaker at the event was Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, the new Chair of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom. She also is president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice. Also present were various delegates from countries such as Vietnam, Italy, Russia and others who had recently attended the annual symposium of the International Center.
Dean James Rasband, BYU Law School and Professor Cole Durham, director of the International Center presented the award to Professor Laycock, calling him a “towering figure in the law of religious liberty,” Laycock is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and is considered one of the nation's leading authorities on both religious liberty law and the law of remedies, Professor Laycock has testified frequently before Congress and has argued many cases in the courts, including the recent landmark religious freedom case Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. E.E.O.C., in which the United States Supreme Court unanimously held there is a ministerial exception to employment discrimination laws that allows churches and other religious groups to select people performing ministerial functions free of government interference. Professor Laycock is widely published and he recently released Religious Liberty, Volume I: Overviews and History, and Volume II: The Free Exercise Clause. These two volumes are the first half of a four-volume collection of his many writings on religious liberty. Before joining the law faculty of the University of Virginia in 2010, Professor Laycock taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Texas and the University of Chicago law schools. He is vice president of the American Law Institute, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the 2009 winner of the National First Freedom Award from the Council on America's First Freedom.
Also announced at the Awards Dinner were the winners of the Third Annual Religious Freedom Student Writing Competition. The first prize of $2000 was awarded to Aaron R. Petty for his paper Faith, However Defined: Reassessing JFS and the Judicial Conception of Religion. The second prize of $1000 went to Brian K. Mosely for Zoning Religion Out of the Public Square: Constitutional Avoidance and Conflicting Interpretations of RLUIPA’s Equal Terms Provision. A third place award and several honorable mentions were also awarded.
The event is also made possible in part by the Sterling and Eleanor Colton Chair in Law and Religion and various other sponsors. Michael Merrill, Chair for the event noted the importance of encouraging young scholars to produce well researched papers in this area of law as well as the value of recognizing those who make valuable contributions in protecting religious liberty. He expressed congratulations to Professor Laycock and these students for their excellent scholarly contributions to the field of religious liberty.
Posted: October 12, 2012