Is the Supreme Court Threatening Religious Groups? Two law professors will debate that question in the next “Hot Topics: Cool Talk” forum, which will be held from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 8, in Room 235 of the School of Law on the downtown Minneapolis campus of the University of St. Thomas.

John Inazu, a professor at Washington University Law School, will argue “yes.”

Nelson Tebbe, a professor at Brooklyn Law School, will argue “no.”

Free and open to the public, the forum is sponsored by the university’s Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law and Public Policy. A complimentary lunch will be served to those who register for the lunch program.

The Hot Topics: Cool Talk series, which explores Catholic positions and other perspectives on provocative issues of law and policy, focuses this year on the challenges of religious freedom in the United States and around the world.

John Inazu

In his book, The Four Freedoms and the Future of Religious Liberty, Inazu wrote that the First Amendment’s freedoms of speech, press, religion and assembly once reinforced each other: “They protected citizens from forced participation in state orthodoxy and created spaces for these citizens to generate and pursue ideas and ways of life apart from the watchful gaze of government. They protected, among other things, a pluralistic civil society that tolerated genuine disagreement and shielded private groups from the imposition of majoritarian norms.”

Nelson Tebbe

The Hot Topics: Cool talk debaters on March 8 will discuss whether these freedoms are crumbling under pressures of anti-discrimination measures and if religious groups are losing the constitutional protections they once enjoyed.

Tebbe teaches courses on constitutional law, religious freedom, legal theory and professional responsibility. He is immediate past chair of the Law and Religion Section of the Association of American Law Schools and is co-organizer of the Annual Law and Religion Roundtable. A graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University, he also holds a Ph.D. in the academic study of religion from the University of Chicago.

Inazu’s scholarship focuses on the First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion, and related questions of legal and political theory. His first book, Liberty’s Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly, seeks to recover the role of assembly in American political and constitutional thought. He is a graduate of Duke University School of Law and holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina.

Rob Vischer, dean and professor at the St. Thomas School of law, will moderate the March 8 program. More information about the Hot Topics: Cool Talk series is available here.

The program has been approved by the Minnesota Board of Legal Education for an “elimination of bias” continuing-legal-education credit.