The Impact of Trinity Lutheran and Matal on Free Exercise and Free Speech

Salt Lake City Lawyers Chapter


  • Scott Gaylord, Professor of Law, Elon University School of Law

At the end of last term, the Supreme Court decided two important First Amendment cases-Trinity Lutheran v. Comer (religion) and Matal v. Tam (speech). Trinity Lutheran required the Court to consider a State’s ability to provide for greater separation of church and state. How high is the wall of separation? What happens when Establishment Clause concerns conflict with Free Exercise? Matal, on the other hand, grappled with trademark law’s position within the Court’s complex free speech precedents. Is it a form of government speech, subsidized speech, or commercial speech? And can the government preclude disparaging marks? This presentation analyzes the Court’s reasoning in both cases and explores their possible impact on future cases, such as Masterpiece Cakeshop (which the Court will hear later this term). 

Lunch is free to those who RSVP to Rose Gledhill at by noon October 11, 2017.