Plaintiff in landmark church and state case dies

A figure in one of the landmark cases concerning church and state died on August 20th.

Vashti McCollum won an 8-1 US Supreme Court decision, in 1948, that ended religious instruction in the public schools.

Justice Hugo Black wrote the court’s opinion:

Recognizing that the Illinois program is barred by the First and Fourteenth Amendments if we adhere to the views expressed both by the majority and the minority in the Everson case, counsel for the respondents challenge those views as dicta and urge that we reconsider and repudiate them. They argue that historically the First Amendment was intended to forbid only government preference of one religion over another, not an impartial governmental assistance of all religions. In addition they ask that we distinguish or overrule our holding in the Everson case that the Fourteenth Amendment made the ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment applicable as a prohibition against the States. After giving full consideration to the arguments presented we are unable to accept either of these contentions.


McCollum went on to write a book about her fight called “One Woman’s Fight” and served as President of the American Humanist Association. She was 93 years old.

See also Former AHA President Vashti McCollum Dies, But Ideals Live On


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