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.
A Passion for Nonconformity
“Free to Examine, to Explore, … to be Exposed to Different Philosophies”
Wallace v. Jaffree
472 U.S. 38 (1985)
Ishmael Jaffree prides himself on a life of nonconformity. Even as a young child, he “started being different from other [Page 105]children.” This nonconformity eventually resulted in the 1985 Supreme Court decision upholding the ban on teacher-led prayer in Alabama public schools. Jaffree's participation in that case was merely a public manifestation of a lifelong self-professed inclination to resist authority. According to Jaffree, “I guess what it comes down to is I never wanted to sacrifice my individuality, my inquiring mind, never wanted to accept something on authority.”
Even in birth, Jaffree seemed to defy expectations. He was born two months prematurely in Cleveland, Ohio, ...