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Document Type

Article

Abstract

Justice Hugo L. Black served on the United States Supreme Court over a period of thirty-four years, encompassing Supreme Court terms from 1937 to 1971. During this period, the subject of the constitutional limitations of the freedom of religion was increasingly subjected to intense social pressures. Justice Black figured prominently in the development of constitutional law as the Supreme Court attempted to give meaning to the establishment and free exercise clause of the first amendment. He wrote the majority opinions which dealt with the establishment clause in the Everson, McCulloin, Engel and Torcaso cases. Yet, on later occasions, Justice Black strongly criticized the Court for ignoring his legal reasoning and breaching the wall of separation of church and state. During his early years on the bench, Justice Black voted to uphold convictions of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Cox, Chaplinsky, Minersville and Prince cases. Although his record was marred by these early votes and later by his votes to uphold Sunday closing laws, Justice Black, in most of the cases dealing with free exercise of religion earned well-deserved praise for expansion of the constitutionally protected freedom of religion.