March 13, 2002 1 min read

Marvin E. Frankel, a former federal judge who helped lead the legal fight against publicly financed vouchers for private education, died last week of prostate cancer.

Mr. Frankel, 81, was one of the lawyers who appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 20 to argue that the Cleveland voucher program represented an unconstitutional government establishment of religion. Mr. Frankel was involved for several years in representing one of two groups of Cleveland residents that challenged the voucher program in both the state and federal courts.

“This voucher program came in, as it were, by the ears, while they [Ohio legislators] were busy working on other, more fundamental things,” he told the high court last month. (“A School Choice for the Supreme Court,” Feb. 27, 2002.)

The voucher argument came nearly 50 years to the day after Mr. Frankel first appeared before the Supreme Court as a young lawyer in the U.S. solicitor general’s office. He later helped defend The New York Times in its landmark 1964 Supreme Court case on the standard for public officials to prove libel.

In 1965, he was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to serve on the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. He left the federal bench in 1978 to return to private law practice.

—Mark Walsh

A version of this article appeared in the March 13, 2002 edition of Education Week