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1943 - US Supreme Court Victory - West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette

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The Librarian

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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 salutes of the type mandated by the West Virginia State Board of Education were forms of utterance and thus were a means of communicating ideas. "Compulsory unification of opinion," the Court held, was doomed to failure and was antithetical to the values set forth in the First Amendment. Writing for the majority, Justice Jackson argued that "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." To underscore its decision, the Supreme Court announced it on Flag Day.


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