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Steven Green

Fred H. Paulus Professor of Law; Director of the Center for Religion, Law & Democracy

Headshot of Steven Green

Contact Information

Salem Campus

Oregon Civic Justice Legal Center 204
245 Winter Street SE
Salem  Oregon  97301


Steven K. Green is the Fred H. Paulus Professor of Law and Affiliated Professor of History and Religious Studies at Willamette University where he teaches courses in Constitutional Law, First Amendment, Legal History, Jurisprudence, Education Law and Criminal Law in the College of Law, and Legal History and American Religious History in the College of Arts & Sciences. In addition, Professor Green directs the interdisciplinary Center for Religion, Law and Democracy, one of Willamette’s Centers of Excellence.

Professor Green joined the Willamette faculty in August 2001, after serving for 10 years as legal director and special counsel for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington, DC, public interest organization that concentrates on First Amendment issues. Professor Green has extensive litigation and appellate experience in First Amendment law involving issues such as school prayer, public funding of religious institutions, public religious displays, religious discrimination, religious free exercise and freedom of speech. He has participated in several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002), the Cleveland school vouchers case; Mitchell v. Helms (2000), authorizing state-paid computers and educational equipment to religious schools; and Santa Fe Ind. Sch. Dist. v. Doe (2000), striking prayer at public school football games. He has authored and collaborated on more than 25 amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) briefs at the U.S. Supreme Court, in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue (2019) and Carson v. Makin (2021), Hobby Lobby v. Burwell (2014), Town of Greece v. Galloway (2014), Zubik v. Burwell (2016), Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer (2017), Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018), Trump v. Hawaii (2018), and most recently Federal Bureau of Investigation v. Yassir Fazaga (2021). 

In addition, Professor Green has significant legislative experience, having testified before Congress and a dozen state legislatures. He helped draft federal and state laws affecting religious liberty interests, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993), the Religious Land-Use and Institutionalized Persons Protection Act (2000), and the Oregon Workplace Religious Freedom Act (2009).

Professor Green is a widely sought speaker at national conferences and a prolific author whose writings have been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts. He is the author of Separating Church and State: A History (Cornell University Press, 2022), The Third Disestablishment: Church, State, and American Culture, 1940-1975 (Oxford University Press, 2019), Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding (Oxford University Press, 2015), The Bible, the School, and the Constitution: The Clash that Shaped Modern Church-State Doctrine (Oxford University Press, 2012), The Second Disestablishment: Church and State in Nineteenth Century America (Oxford University Press, 2010), co-author of Religious Freedom and the Supreme Court (Baylor, 2008), and a contributor to the Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties and the Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law, among other anthologies. He is the author of more than 30 law review articles in journals including William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, Cornell Law Review, Notre Dame Law Review, Emory Law Journal, Boston College Law Review, BYU Law Review, American Journal of Legal History, and Journal of Law and Religion. Green is currently writing a new book the origins of separation of church and state for Cornell University Press. Green is currently writing a new book on Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the Invention of American Religious Freedom.

Professor Green has served on the board of Oregon chapter of the American Constitution Society, the public policy board of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, the editorial council of the Journal of Church and State, and the legal advisory committee of the National Center for Science Education. He previously served on the religious liberty committee of the National Council of Churches and as recorder for the Oregon Law Commission's study of the faith-based initiative in Oregon.

In 2014 and 2006, Professor Green received the Robert L. Misner Award for Excellence in Scholarship, which was established in memory of former College of Law Dean and Professor Robert L. Misner. Professor Green also received the 2003 Professor of the Year Award for Teaching.


  • JD, University of Texas, 1981
  • PhD, University of North Carolina, 1997
  • MA, University of North Carolina, 1987
  • BA, Texas Christian University, Phi Beta Kappa, 1978
Willamette University

Faculty Support

Willamette University
College of Law
245 Winter Street SE
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
(503) 370-6405