Barnette: A question of compelled listening

by Jordan Coleman While looking at how the law approaches free speech and the involvement of education policies, schools, parents, and communities find themselves clashing over what should be considered an invasion of personal beliefs in the way families educate their children. The case of West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette in 1943 gives…

Barnette: Compelled speech and the arts

In West Virginia vs. Barnette, children identifying as Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to stand up and salute the flag because such an action went against the religious beliefs that the children upheld. These students were forced to adhere to a set of values they did not adhere to themselves, and were punished for standing up for…

Barnette: An immediate impact

by Rachel Anderson Since the court’s decision in 1943, West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette has become a landmark Supreme Court case, setting the standard for how courts address compelled speech. But how big an impact did it make at first? How was it applied in courts? Could government actors use this case to…

Barnette: The compelled speech cases that followed

In 1942, a whirlwind of controversy surrounded America’s education system and its compelled speech on students. At this time the West Virginia Board of Education mandated that all students and faculty salute the flag. However, several students of a Jehovah’s Witness family refused to comply due to their religious beliefs. The students believed God’s commands…

Barnette and First Amendment theory

The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” In simple terms, it protects…

Barnette: Persecution of the Witnesses – a Historical Context

by Colin Messke “[I]t was like open season on Jehovah’s Witnesses” – Lillian Gobitas Prior to the Barnett children’s refusal to salute the flag of the United States and recite the pledge of allegiance, and before the Supreme Court ruled in their favor, thereby creating a precedent defending those who do not recite the pledge…

History: West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette

By Devin Savage and Grant Langley The West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette court case has gone down in history as one of the most important cases involving compelled speech, which is speech that requires an individual to state or support ideas or beliefs they do not believe, or reveal information when it…

Barnette and compelled speech: Nationalism or compulsion?

by Sierra Colletto Compelled speech has long been denounced by radicals and scholars alike, but where did the resistance to compelled speech and its subsequent protection by the Constitution get its origin? In cases of “keeping the peace,” is compulsory action considered “patriotic” or essential to national unity? Let’s take it back to the beginning;…

Barnette: A pledge and a salute

by Michael Ong and Andrew Knox This video analyzes the landmark 1943 West Virginia School Board of Education vs. Barnette case through the lens of the historical context of the time during which the case was decided. First, a brief abstract of the case itself is provided, and then the following sections discuss crucial historical…

Barnette: A need for unity

by Michaela Mulligan and Ethan Clardy In a classroom in West Virginia in 1941, students stood to do what they do every day, salute the flag. Everyone, except for the Barnette children. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, they were taught to not worship graven images as prescribed in the book of Exodus in the Bible. The flag,…