Friend of the Court

Legal scholar Scott Gaylord is a prominent voice on legal opinions concerning the First Amendment.

What are the current conflicts in the law involving the First Amendment? What kind of implications do specific U.S. Supreme Court decisions have on an issue? What has the Court done in the past? What can be applied going forward to help courts solve First Amendment disputes as they move through the judicial system?

Scott Gaylord, professor of law, considers all these questions in his work as a constitutional law scholar. As a result, he writes articles for law journals that often lead to amicus briefs, the name for a brief filed with the court by someone who is not a party to the case. In turn, that helps educate the court on points of law that are in doubt or raise awareness of an aspect of a case that the court might otherwise miss.

Gaylord’s work in constitutional law also informs his roles as teacher, litigator and public commentator.

Scholarship is a vital part of what he does to help Elon Law students understand underlying issues and principles involved in legal analysis. Scholarship also aids in his teaching of the process of lawyering: the ways to approach, examine and argue for and against a certain legal position.

After clerking on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and practicing in the area of complex civil and commercial litigation for seven years, Gaylord thinks he has an obligation and responsibility to help the Court reach the best outcomes.

There are always interesting and important cases going on across the country that raise novel questions about the scope of our due process, equal protection, free speech and free exercise rights. Our investigations in the classroom enrich my scholarship, which in turn have fostered exciting opportunities to get involved in appellate litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court and the federal Circuit Courts.

Often there is a lot of confusion about what the law or the U.S. Supreme Court says. In addition to educating students, Gaylord offers explanation through op-eds in national publications (such as the New York Times and USA Today) and provides interviews for radio shows (including the “Diane Rehm Show” and NPR affiliates), podcasts and television.

Joined Elon’s Faculty:

  • 2007


  • J.D. from Notre Dame Law School, summa cum laude
  • Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • B.A. in Philosophy and English from Colgate University, summa cum laude

Recently Published Work:

  • “Individual Rights, Federalism and the National Battle Over Bathroom Access,” (forthcoming North Carolina Law Review Spring 2017) (with Thomas Molony).
  • “RFRA Rights Revisited: Substantial Burdens, Judicial Competence, and the Religious Nonprofits Cases,” 81 Mo. L. Rev. (Fall 2016).
  • Cases and Materials on Federal Constitutional Law (2d ed. Carolina Academic Press) (2016) (with Christopher Green and Lee Strang).
  • “Casey and the First Amendment: Revisiting an Old Case to Resolve a New Compelled Speech Controversy,” 66 S.C. L. Rev. 951 (Summer 2015).
  • “A Matter of Context: Casey and the Constitutionality of Compelled Physician Speech,” 43 J.L. Med. & Ethics 35 (Spring 2015).