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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Lemon is Dead

The New York Times yesterday published the obituary of Alton T. Lemon, "a civil rights activist whose objection to state aid to religious schools gave rise to a watershed 1971 Supreme Court decision." That case, of course, is Lemon v. Kurtzman. Lemon died in Pennsylvania on May 4 at the age of 84.

Lemon's biography itself is interesting; I did not know, among other things, that he was African-American and a civil rights activist. He remembered playing basketball with Martin Luther King at Morehouse College. He was also, interestingly, the first black president of the Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia. The obituary concludes: "Mr. Lemon attended the Supreme Court argument in his case, but he found the experience a little alienating. 'When your case gets to the Supreme Court, it’s a lawyer’s day in court,' he said. 'It doesn’t matter to the justices if you are dead or alive.'" Certainly Lemon's name is famous today for a generally applicable legal test, not any personal details about the man. 

The title of the post is, of course, not meant disrespectfully. It is the title of Michael Stokes Paulsen's famous article about Lemon v. Kurtzman, an article that also focused (understandably) on the test and not the man. 


Posted by Paul Horwitz on May 26, 2013 at 09:20 AM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink


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Bios or op-eds of litigants are often quite interesting. Or, maybe it's just me. Nah. The nature of the case particularly made it not about him personally, but a principle. Still, interesting story.

Posted by: Joe | May 28, 2013 12:48:39 PM

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