Minersville School District v. Gobitis

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In Minersville School District v. Gobitis, the Supreme Court decided a case that sought to balance the First Amendment rights with school requirements involving compulsory flag salute. William and Lillian Gobitis, children of Jehovah's Witnesses, refused to salute the flag and were expelled from their school in Minersville, Pennsylvania. Their father sued to have them readmitted, the case eventually reaching the Supreme Court for arguments on April 25, 1940. The decision was a ruling of 8-1 against the Gobitis, as announced on June 3, 1940.

Justice Frankfurther wrote the majority opinion, stating that while "liberty and toleration and good sense" favored the family, "it is a very different thing for this Court to exercise censorship over the conviction of legislatures that "a particular program or exercise will best promote in the minds of children who attend the common schools an attachment to the institutions of their country."

Justice Stone dissented with the majority opinion writing regarding the law that "it does more than suppress freedom of speech and more than prohibit the free exercise of religion, which concededly are forbidden by the First Amendment and are violations of the liberty guaranteed by the Fourteenth. For by this law the state seeks to coerce these children to express a sentiment which, as they interpret it, they do not entertain, and which violates their deepest religious convictions."

This decision was reversed a mere three years later by the Supreme Court in 1943 by the West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette case.

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