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Recollections of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette

43 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2007 Last revised: 18 Nov 2007

John Q. Barrett

St. John's University School of Law; Robert H. Jackson Center

Gregory L. Peterson

affiliation not provided to SSRN

E. Barrett Prettyman Jr.

Hogan Lovells

Shawn Francis Peters

University of Wisconsin - Madison - School of Education

Gathie Barnett Edmonds

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Marie Barnett Snodgrass

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Bennett Boskey

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Abstract

During World War II, Gathie and Marie Barnett, along with their parents and other Jehovah's Witnesses, challenged the constitutionality of compelling school children to pledge allegiance and salute the American flag. Their Supreme Court victory, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943) (misspelling their surname), and Justice Robert H. Jackson's eloquent opinion for the Court in the case, is a constitutional law landmark.

In 2006, the Robert H. Jackson Center and the Supreme Court Historical Society cosponsored a Barnette event involving its protagonists. These proceedings, as edited and published here, begin with welcoming remarks by Mr. Peterson and Mr. Prettyman. Dr. Peters, author of a leading history of the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses and their litigation seeking judicial protection for constitutional rights, discusses the social and legal events leading to Barnette. In a roundtable discussion, the "Barnette" sisters and Mr. Boskey, who was Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone's chief law clerk from 1941-43, discuss personal, legal and historical aspects of "their" case. Professor Barrett, in closing remarks, discusses Justice Jackson and aspects of his background, including his upbringing in a region of free thought and belief and his experiences with religious difference, that seem relevant to the principles he articulated so well in Barnette.

Keywords: West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette; Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone, Justice Robert H. Jackson; Justice Felix Frankfurter; Jehovah's Witnesses; flag salute; Minersville School District v. Gobitis.

Suggested Citation

Barrett, John Q. and Peterson, Gregory L. and Prettyman, E. Barrett and Peters, Shawn Francis and Edmonds, Gathie Barnett and Snodgrass, Marie Barnett and Boskey, Bennett, Recollections of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. St. John's Law Review, Vol. 81, pp. 755-796, Fall 2007; St. John's Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-0089. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1029995

John Q. Barrett (Contact Author)

St. John's University School of Law ( email )

8000 Utopia Parkway
Queens, NY 11439
United States
718-990-6644 (Phone)
718-990-2199 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.stjohns.edu/academics/graduate/law/faculty/Profiles/Barrett

Robert H. Jackson Center

305 East Fourth Street
Jamestown, NY 14701
United States
716-483-6646 (Phone)
716-483-0690 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.roberthjackson.org

Gregory L. Peterson

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

E. Barrett Prettyman Jr.

Hogan Lovells ( email )

555 Thirteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20004
United States

Shawn Francis Peters

University of Wisconsin - Madison - School of Education

Madison, WI 53706
United States

Gathie Barnett Edmonds

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Marie Barnett Snodgrass

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Bennett Boskey

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

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