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Thomas v. Review Board of the Indiana Employment Security Division - Significance, The Lower Court Rulings, The Supreme Court Decides

william petitioner paul respondent


Eddie C. Thomas


Review Board of the Indiana Employment Security Division

Petitioner's Claim

That the Indiana Employment Security Division's refusal to grant unemployment benefits to Thomas, a Jehovah's Witness who quit his job for religious reasons, violated his right to free exercise of religion.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Blanca Bianchi de la Torre

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

William E. Daily

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Warren E. Burger (writing for the Court), Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., John Paul Stevens, Potter Stewart, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

William H. Rehnquist


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

6 April 1981


The Indiana Employment Security Division did in fact violate Thomas' constitutional right to free exercise of religion under the First Amendment.

Related Cases

  • Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S. 359 (1931).
  • Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296 (1940).
  • Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947).
  • Walz v. Tax Commisioner, 397 U.S. 664 (1970).
  • Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972).

Further Readings

  • Ducat, Craig R. and Harold W. Chase. Constitutional Interpretation. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company, 1988.
  • Greenslaw, Paul S., and John P. Kohl. "Religious Freedom and Unemployment Compensation Benefits." Public Personnel Management, Fall 1995.
  • Seeger, Steven C. "Restoring Rights to Rites." Michigan Law Review, March 1997, p. 1472.
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