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Wisconsin v. Yoder

From lawbrain.com

Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), was a constitutional law case heard before the United States Supreme Court that dealt with the compulsory education of minors conflicting with a fundamental right to freedom of religion.

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Summary of Case Facts

Three parents of Amish children were prosecuted, criminally, under a Wisconsin state law that required parents to send their children to public school until age 16. The parents did not allow their children to attend school beyond eighth grade, and argued that the values taught in high school were in contradiction with their religious beliefs.


Did Wisconsin’s law requiring children to attend school until age 16 offend the parents’ rights to freedom of religion as provided by the First Amendment?

Holding and Law

Yes. In a unanimous decision, the court held the compulsory school attendance law unconstitutional as applied to the Amish parents under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The court felt that the state’s interest in compelling high school education was outweighed by the parents’ interests in their free exercise of religion. The court found the material taught in high school to be contradictory to “the fundamental mode of life mandated by the Amish religion,” and that the children would not benefit from the extra 1-2 years of additional schooling required by the state.

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