Law Dictionary

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette

U.S. Case Law

legal Definition of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette

319 U.S. 624 (1943), struck down an earlier ruling (Minersville School District v. Gobitis (1940)) that children who are members of the religious group known as Jehovah's Witnesses must join in saluting the American flag in public schools. The Court ruled that First Amendment guarantees regarding freedom of religion protected the right to remain silent if a person's religious beliefs recommend it, and that the government cannot compel a person to do otherwise.

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