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Free Speech, Religious Liberty, and the Long Campaign to Constitutionalize Discrimination

General Programming

dateSeptember 21, 2023 timeThursday, 5:00pm EDT location Fayerweather Hall, Room 411, Columbia University
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Columbia Research Initiative on the Global History of Sexualities
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • No registration necessary
1960s b&w of LGBT community marching with Irish American lesbian and gay sign

Last June, the Supreme Court opened a chasm in the longstanding legal settlement between the First Amendment and anti-discrimination law. In 303 Creative v. Elenis, the Court ruled that public accommodations may deny service to same-sex couples under certain circumstances. This talk traces the new right to exclude back to the Christian Right movement lawyers who first advanced it in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Beyond explaining how market discrimination became protected speech, this historical genealogy helps locate lawyers for the New Christian Right in the broader history of the conservative legal movement.


Kate Redburn is an Academic Fellow and Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School. They write legal history and theory of gender and sexuality, religion, and political economy in the late 20th and early 21st century United States. Their primary research project traces the rise of religious objection to anti-discrimination law since 1964. A second project looks at transgender legal history in the U.S. They are currently completing a JD-PhD in History and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale.