West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette

At issue in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943) was whether a school board could compel students to participate in the salute to the American flag or be disciplined if they refused to do so for religious reasons. Students who were Jehovah's Witnesses and their parents challenged a school policy on the basis that their religious beliefs prohibited them from recognizing or bowing down to any graven image. The plaintiffs filed suit due to their refusal to salute because they considered the flag to be a “graven image” within this religious precept. The Supreme Court decided that the state was acting unconstitutionally in a manner at odds with the Bill of Rights, in a case that continues to have influence today.

The Court's ...

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