Thomas C. Berg portrait

Thomas C. Berg

James L. Oberstar Professor of Law and Public Policy
J.D., University of Chicago Law School
M.A., Religion, University of Chicago
M.A., Philosophy and Politics, Oxford University (Rhodes Scholar)
B.S., Northwestern University
(651) 962-4918
Toll Free
(800) 328-6819, Ext. 2-4918
1000 LaSalle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403-2015

Thomas Berg grew up in Chicago and received a B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University, an M.A. in philosophy and politics from Oxford University, and both an M.A. in religious studies and a J.D. from the University of Chicago. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. While in law school, Berg served as executive editor of the law review, won the Beale and Bustin prizes for legal scholarship and writing, and served as musical director for three law-student musical comedy shows. After clerking for Judge Alvin Rubin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Berg practiced law in Chicago with Mayer, Brown and Platt doing general commercial litigation, appellate litigation, and nonprofit institutions’ legal work.

Berg teaches constitutional law, law and religion, intellectual property, and the religious liberty appellate clinic. In the clinic he supervises students writing briefs in major religious liberty cases, drawing on his experience drafting nearly 40 briefs on issues of religious liberty and free speech in the Supreme Court and lower courts.

In addition to serving as an advocate, Berg is among the nation’s leading scholars of law and religion. He has written approximately 50 book chapters and journal articles and dozens of op-eds and shorter pieces on religious freedom, constitutional law, and the role of religion in law, politics and society. His work has been cited several times by the U.S. Supreme Court and federal courts of appeals. He is the author of several books, including a leading casebook, Religion and the Constitution (with Michael McConnell and John Garvey, Aspen Law Books), and The State and Religion in a Nutshell (West). His other chief scholarly interest is in the relation of intellectual property rights, social justice, and human development.

Berg has served as UST School of Law’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and as co-director of the Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy. He has received the Religious Liberty Defender of the Year Award (1996) from the Christian Legal Society, the Alpha Sigma Nu Book Award (2004) from the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, and the John Courtney Murray Award from DePaul University College of Law for contributions to church-state studies. 

Berg has also been a visiting professor at the University of Aix (France) and the University of Siena (Italy). He has made dozens of presentations to academic, professional, religious, and community groups and has testified before Congress and state legislatures multiple times. He contributes regularly to Mirror of Justice, a weblog on Catholic thought and law, and the Whole Life Democrat blog. He is past chair of the Law and Religion Section of the Association of American Law Schools and a current or past board member for several organizations, including the Democrats for Life of America. He collaborates on musical comedy shows with his wife Maureen, a playwright, and performs in the Twin Cities Gilbert & Sullivan company.

Click here to read Berg's scholarship on SSRN.

Selected Publications


Religion and the Constitution (Wolters Kluwer 4th ed. 2016) (with Michael W. McConnell and Christopher Lund) 

The State and Religion in a Nutshell (Thomson/Reuters 3d ed. forthcoming 2016)


"Protecting Religious Liberty and Same-Sex Marriage," 99 Virginia Law Review Online (2013) (with Douglas Laycock), expanded version in Religion and Equality (W. Cole Durham and Donlu Thayer eds., Ashgate Press, forthcoming 2016) 

"Progressive Arguments for Religious Organizational Freedom," 21 Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues 279 (2013)

"Intellectual Property and the Preferential Option for the Poor," 5 Journal of Catholic Social Thought 193 (2008)

"Minority Religions and the Religion Clauses," 82 Washington University Law Quarterly 919 (2004)

"Religious Conservatives and the Death Penalty," 9 William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 31 (2000)

"Church-State Relations and the Social Ethics of Reinhold Niebuhr," 73 North Carolina Law Review 1567 (1995) 


"Partly Acculturated Religion and Religious Freedom," Notre Dame Law School, Yale Law School, November 2015

"Kamm Memorial Lecture," Can Religious Liberty and Political Progressivism Coexist?," Wheaton College, April 2013

Thomas Berg Curriculum Vitae

Fall 2017 Courses

Fall 2017 Courses
Course - Section Title Days Time Location
LAWS 757 - 01 Relig Liberty Appellate Clinic - - - - - - - -
CRN: 43129 Instructor: Thomas C. Berg

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)
LAWS 834 - 01 Intellectual Property M - W - - - - 1030 - 1155 MSL 244
CRN: 43157 3 Credit Hours Instructor: Thomas C. Berg This course will survey the major statutes protecting in- tellectual property - trademarks, copyrights, patents and trade secrets - together with related common law doctrines. The course will emphasize basic theories of legal protection as well as the limits on this protection that are designed to preserve a public domain of freely accessible inform- ation. The course will introduce students to practical as- pects of handling intellectual property, such as patent and trademark applications, licensing of intellectual property and handling of employee inventions. Students will explore the law's response to new technologies, the preemption of state laws by federal patent law, the impact of internation- al agreements covering intellectual property and the relationship of intellectual property to social justice and economic development.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)
LAWS 843 - 01 1st Amendment: Relig Libert M - W - - - - 1500 - 1625 MSL 238
CRN: 43159 Instructor: Thomas C. Berg This course will explore the historical development of religious liberty and issues arising under the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment, including religious exemptions from general laws, school vouchers and other forms of government aid to religious organizations, school prayer and other issues concerning religion in government settings, and the involvement of religion in politics.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)
LAWS 950 - 02 Supervised Resrch & Writing - - - - - - - -
CRN: 43218 Instructor: Thomas C. Berg Under the supervision of a faculty member, a student may receive up to two hours of course credit for researching and writing a substantial paper on a topic of the student's own choosing. The student must receive the instructor's per- mission to enroll in this course and must meet periodically with the instructor for discussion, review and evaluation. Each faculty member may supervise the research of no more than five students each semester.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)

J-Term 2018 Courses

J-Term 2018 Courses
Course - Section Title Days Time Location

Spring 2018 Courses

Spring 2018 Courses
Course - Section Title Days Time Location