I had the opportunity to participate last Friday in an excellent symposium, “Barnette at 75: The Past, Present, and Future of the ‘Fixed Star in Our Constitutional Constellation,’” at Florida International University College of Law in Miami.
The symposium considered, from many angles, the United States Supreme Court’s 1943 decision, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, including its historical context, meanings, flaws, and legacies.
In Barnette, the Supreme Court invalidated a state requirement that public school teachers and students participate in a salute to the American flag and recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The Court held, 6-3, that these requirements violated the constitutional rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses schoolchildren. In his opinion for the Court, Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote that “[i]f there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”
Video of the symposium proceedings is online here:
To view any (or every) speaker, here are the respective video time-counter readings:
Welcome and Introduction, Prof. Howard Wasserman, Faculty Symposium Organizer
Welcome remarks, Dean Antony Page, Florida International University College of Law
First Panel: Barnette in Historical Context
Ronald K. L. Collins, Harold S. Shefelman Scholar, University of Washington School of Law
- Thoughts on Hayden C. Covington and the Paucity of Litigation Scholarship
John Inazu, Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law & Religion, Washington University School of Law
- Barnette and the Four Freedoms
Genevieve Lakier, Professor of Law, University of Chicago School of Law
- Barnette, Compelled Speech, and the Regulatory State
Brad Snyder, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
- Frankfurter and the Flag Salute Cases
Second Panel: Reading Barnette
Aaron Saiger, Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law
Steven Smith, Warren Distinguished Professor of Law, University of San Diego School of Law
- “Fixed Star” or “Twin Star”? The Ambiguity of Barnette
Paul Horwitz, Gordon Rosen Professor of Law, University of Alabama School of Law
- Barnette: A Close Reading (for Vince Blasi)
John Q. Barrett, Professor of Law, St. John’s University School of Law
- Justice Jackson & Jehovah’s Witnesses: Barnette in its Context, and in Jackson’s Life and Work
Third Panel: Barnette in Modern Context
Erica Goldberg, Professor of Law, University of Dayton School of Law
- “Good Orthodoxy” and the Legacy of Barnette
Abner S. Greene, Leonard F. Manning Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law
- Barnette and Masterpiece Cakeshop: Some Unanswered Questions
Leslie Kendrick, Vice Dean and David H. Ibbeken ’71 Research Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law
- A Fixed Star in New Skies: The Evolution of Barnette
Articles based on these lectures will be published in a symposium issue of the FIU Law Review.
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