'Jews Only' Inheritance Clause Legal

September 25, 2009

Author: Christopher Wills

Source: The Seattle Times


Proud of his religion and worried about its future, Chicago dentist Max Feinberg wrote a will with an unusual catch: His grandchildren wouldn't inherit a penny if they married someone who wasn't Jewish.

His decision led to family feuds, lawsuits, counterclaims and, Thursday, a unanimous ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court that Feinberg and his wife were within their rights to disinherit any grandchildren who married outside the faith.

"Equal protection does not require that all children be treated equally ... and the free-exercise clause does not require a grandparent to treat grandchildren who reject his religious beliefs and customs in the same manner as he treats those who conform to his traditions," Justice Rita Garman wrote in a ruling that overturned decisions by two lower courts.