McElroy Lecture


In February 1998, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law began the McElroy Lecture Series to address prominent issues of religion, law and society.?The McElroy Lecture is sponsored by UDM Law through a bequest from alumnus Philip J. McElroy for the establishment of the Center of Law and Religion at UDM Law.

It seeks to educate students, legal professionals, and the wider public on a variety of questions related to moral philosophy, freedom of conscience, the interaction of legal and religious institutions, and the role of religion in public life. Its goal is to encourage discussion of these issues in our community and deepen our understanding of them.

Prior lecturers have been U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Stephen L. Carter, Adam Cardinal Maida, Hon. John T. Noonan, Jr., Michael John Perry, Jaroslav Pelikan, Dennis W. Archer, Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr., Cass R. Sunstein, Noah Feldman, Leslie Griffin, Roger Cardinal Mahony, John Witte, Jr., Douglas M. Laycock, Marci A. Hamilton, and Sarah Barringer Gordon.

These?lectures have had a profound impact on the nation’s understanding of ?law and religion. For example, Professor?Laycock’s 2011 lecture was cited to in briefs submitted to the United States Supreme Court in?Obergefell v. Hodges,?Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and?Hollingsworth v. Perry


Detroit Mercy School of Law hosted in 20th annual McElroy Lecture on March 28, 2018. ?This year’s lecturer was University of Victoria Law School Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law John Borrows. ?Mr. Barrows’ speech was titled “The Revitalization of Indigenous Spirituality:? Court and Community Conflicts.”

Over the past few decades in Canada, there has been a resurgence of respect for and knowledge about Indigenous people (the first peoples of Canada). ?Spirituality plays a key role in Indigenous legal traditions in Canada, rooted as they are in principles such as the Seven Grandmother teachings of love, truth, bravery, humility, wisdom, honesty, and respect. In the past, Indigenous legal traditions, much like Native American traditions in the United States, have been misunderstood as primitive, broken, disappearing, irrelevant, or even nonexistent. ?That is changing in Canada. ?Dr. Borrows discussed how Indigenous spirituality and legal traditions provide new resources for legal reasoning and thinking in areas such as child welfare, education, health, housing, and natural resource development.

For more information on the McElroy Lecture and Mr. Barrows’ speech please visit Detroit Mercy Law’s events page.


University of Detroit Mercy School of Law hosted its 19th McElroy Lecture on Law and Religion on Thursday, March 2, 2017.? This year’s lecturer was Intisar A. Rabb, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Director of its Islamic Legal Studies Program. ?Rabb holds an appointment as a Professor of History at Harvard University and as the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The title of her lecture is, “Qā?ī Justice: Islamic Law as Procedure.”?For more information on the McElroy Lecture and Ms. Rabb’s speech please visit Detroit Mercy Law’s events page.


This year’s lecturer was Professor Kent Greenawalt of Columbia Law School addressing religious exemptions in same-sex marriages. ?Professor Greenawalt was joined by commentators Andrew Koppelman of Northwestern University and Michael Moreland of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law and University of Notre Dame Law School. ?The lecture was held on Wednesday, March 16, from 5:00 – 6:00 pm and was followed by a complimentary reception in the atrium.


Since 1998, the University of Detroit Mercy Law Review has been honored to publish the lectures and essays that have come out of the event. Below is the publication information.

2016 –?Kent Greenawalt,?Granting Exemptions from Legal Duties: When are They Warranted and What is the Place of Religion??93 U. Det. Mercy. L. Rev. ?89

2012 –?Marci A. Hamilton, Child Sex Abuse in Institutional Settings: What Is Next, 89 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 421

2011 –?Douglas Laycock, Sex, Atheism, and the Free Exercise of Religion, 88 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 407

2010 – ?John Witte, Jr., Natural Rights, Popular Sovereignty, and Covenant Politics: Johannes Althusius and the Dutch Revolt and Republic, 87 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 565

2009 –?Cardinal Roger Mahony, Immigration, the Rule of Law, and the Common Good, 86 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 603

2008 –?Leslie C. Griffin, No Law Respecting the Practice of Religion, 85 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 475

2006 –?Cass R. Sunstein, Celebrating God, Constitutionally, 83 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 567

2007 –?Noah Feldman, Law, Islam, and the Future of the Middle East, 84 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 617

2001 –?Michael J. Perry, Religion, Politics, and Abortion, 79 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 1

2000 –?Stephen L. Carter, Religious Freedom As If Family Matters, 78 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 1 (2000)

2000 –?Adam Cardinal Maida, The Voice of Religion in Shaping Culture and Law, 78 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 17

2000 –?Joseph P. Daoust, S.J., Legal Education in A Catholic University Mission and Possibilities, 78 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 27

2000 –?Chad Baruch,?In the Name of the Father: A Critique of Reliance Upon Jewish Law to Support Capital Punishment in the United States, 78 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 41

2000 – Marsha B. Freeman, Divorce Mediation: Sweeping Conflicts Under the Rug, Time to Clean House, 78 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 67