Rick Garnett delivered Duncan Lecture at the University of Nebraska College of Law

Author: Denise Wager

Professor Rick Garnett delivered the 2nd Annual Duncan Lecture on Constitutional Law at the University of Nebraska College of Law.


The second-annual Duncan Lecture on Constitutional Law was held Monday at the University of Nebraska College of Law on the topic of religious freedom in America. The event was hosted by the Nebraska school’s Christian Legal Society chapter. Daniel Segura, a Nebraska law student and president of the Christian Legal Society, said Garnett is among the leading speakers in the country on First Amendment issues. He said the student organization hopes to offer space for debate over how the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted, and he hopes to see a variety of views represented. 

“We want everyone to come to these events, even if they completely disagree,” Segura said. 

Religious freedom has been an area where law has changed due to recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, and Segura said it intersects with subjects like civil rights and legislation to stop discrimination. For example, he said a law that bans discrimination against LGBT people could limit the ability of a Christian psychologist to do what they want with their professional practice. 

 Jeff Downing, president of the Nebraska Christian Legal Society, said his organization is sponsoring the annual lecture to recognize University of Nebraska College of Law professor Rick Duncan, who is now in his 40th year at the law school. 

“With this annual lecture, we are pleased to honor Professor Duncan’s teaching and scholarship in the area of constitutional law,” Downing said in an email. “He has had – and continues to have – a profound influence on several generations of Nebraska lawyers and law students.” 

Garnett called Ducnan “a model of rational, charitable, civil inquiry, even when engaging contentious subjects” and said it is an honor to participate in the lecture. 

Segura said Duncan and Garnett are both constitutional originalists who adhere to the principal that the historical context of the constitution’s framing should be used in its legal interpretation. 

“Religious freedom has been called our ‘first freedom’ but it seems that we increasingly disagree about what it means and why it matters,” Garnett said. “It is important to remember that religious liberty is important not only to religious believers, but also because it limits the reach of government and, therefore, strengthens all of our other freedoms.”

A video of the talk is here.

Originally published by Denise Wager at churchstate.nd.edu on April 16, 2019.