Attorney of historic Supreme Court case is featured 2023 Constitution Day lecturer
Auburn University’s annual Constitution Day lecture will feature Ronnie Williams, the attorney that argued the Supreme Court case of Wallace v. Jaffree that raised the question of prayer in school under the 1st Amendment Establishment Clause. The program will take place on Thursday, September 14 at 3 p.m. in the Caroline Marshall Draughon Auditorium on the ground floor of the Ralph Brown Draughon Library. It may also be attended via Zoom at https://auburn.zoom.us/j/83107385345.
Attorney Ronnie Williams will discuss Wallace v. Jaffree, the 1985 landmark school prayer decision, and his experience arguing the case before the United States Supreme Court. Representing Ishmael Jaffree of Mobile, Alabama, Williams argued that an Alabama statute that sought to return prayer to public schools by authorizing a one-minute period of silence for “meditation or voluntary prayer” violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause. Because the statute lacked a secular purpose, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Jaffree’s favor.
Attorney Williams continues to serve as a constitutional rights advocate and civil rights attorney and is the founder of Williams & Associates, LLC, which has offices in Mobile and Birmingham. A graduate of Tuskegee Institute and the Florida State University College of Law, Williams is a member of both the Alabama and Florida Bars.
Williams will be introduced by Dr. Steven P. Brown, Professor and Morris Savage Endowed Chair in the Department of Political Science. Brown is the author of Alabama Justice: The Cases and Faces that Changed a Nation, which includes a chapter on Wallace v. Jaffree.
The event is free and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by Auburn University Libraries, the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities, and the Department of Political Science at Auburn University.
About Constitution Day
On September 17, 1787, the Constitutional Convention held its final meeting and delegates signed the Constitution of the United States of America. In 2004, Congress designated September 17 of each year as Constitution Day, requiring schools receiving federal funds and all federal agencies to coordinate educational events during the week to promote a better understanding of the Constitution.