Anonymous asked in Education & ReferenceWords & Wordplay · 1 decade ago

Significance of West Virginia State Board of Ed. v. Barnette?

2 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    As part of instituting a required curriculum teaching American values, the state of West Virginia forced students and teachers to participate in saluting the flag. Failure to comply with this resulted in expulsion and the student was considered illegally absent until readmitted. A group of Jehovah's Witnesses refused to salute the flag because it represented a graven image that was not to be recognized.

    In an 8-1 decision, the Court ruled that the school district violated the rights of students by forcing them to salute the American flag.


    This decision directly reversed the Court's earlier decision in Gobitis. In this case, the Court saw the forced salute as compelling the students to assert a belief contrary to their faiths. The minimal harm created by lack of compliance is not great enough to dismiss the rights of the students to exercise their religions

  • 1 decade ago

    Facts of the Case

    The West Virginia Board of Education required that the flag salute be part of the program of activities in all public schools. All teachers and pupils were required to honor the Flag; refusal to salute was treated as "insubordination" and was punishable by expulsion and charges of delinquency.


    Did the compulsory flag-salute for public schoolchildren violate the First Amendment?


    In a 6-to-3 decision, the Court overruled its decision in Minersville School District v. Gobitis and held that compelling public schoolchildren to salute the flag was unconstitutional. The Court found that such a salute was a form of utterance and was a means of communicating ideas. "Compulsory unification of opinion," the Court held, was doomed to failure and was antithetical to First Amendment values. Writing for the majority, Justice Jackson argued that "[i]f there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."

    The last sentence is the significance.

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