100 Americans Making Constitutional History: A Biographical History presents 100 profiles of the key people behind some of the most important U.S. Supreme Court cases. Edited by Melvin I. Urofsky, a respected constitutional historian, each 2,000-word profile delves into the social and political context behind landmark Court decisions. For example, while a case like Brown v. Board of Education is about an important idea—the equal protection of the law—at its heart it is the story of a little girl, Linda Brown, who wanted to go to a decent school near her home. The outcome is accessible and objective “stories” about the individuals—heroes and scoundrels—who fought their way to constitutional history.

Lillian Gobitas

Lillian Gobitas

Freedom of Religion

“Jehovah will Provide”

Minersville School District v. Gobitis

310 U.S. 586 (1940)

In 1935, twelve-year-old Lillian Gobitas and her siblings heard the words of Joseph Rutherford, the leader of Jehovah's Witnesses, on their kitchen radio. He implored Witnesses to refuse to salute the American flag because it amounted to the worship of a false idol, which violated the law of God as set forth in the Bible. Rutherford related the courage of Witnesses in Germany who refused to salute Adolf Hitler in the face of the unbelievable oppressions of the Nazi regime, and he called for American Witnesses to show the same courage and refuse to salute the flag. It was a message that struck a chord with Lillian Gobitas.

Drawing on Rutherford's speech, along ...

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