Sunday, December 8, 2013

Wisconsin v. Yoder case brief

Wisconsin v. Yoder case brief summary
406 U.S. 205 (1972)


CASE SYNOPSIS
The court granted certiorari to review a decision of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, which held that respondents' convictions for violating Wisconsin's compulsory school attendance law were invalid under the First Amendment's guaranty of the free exercise of religious expression.

CASE FACTS
The parents were convicted of violating the state's compulsory public school attendance law. The parents practiced the Amish and Mennonite religions and argued that sending their children to public school after the eighth grade violated their religious beliefs and threatened their religious way of life. The state supreme court reversed the convictions.

DISCUSSION

  • On certiorari review, the Court found that the parents' fundamental religious belief that they should remain "aloof from the world" was endangered by the enforcement of the public education laws. 
  • Although neutral on its face, the compulsory school attendance law unduly burdened the Free Exercise Clause. 
  • The parents educated their children at home in practical pursuits and prepared them to become functioning adults in their communities. 
  • The court held that accommodating the parents' religious objections by forgoing one or two additional years of compulsory education would not impair the physical or mental health of the child, result in an inability to be self-supporting or to discharge the duties and responsibilities of citizenship, or in any other way materially detract from societal welfare.
CONCLUSION
The court affirmed, deciding that Wisconsin's compulsory school attendance law unduly burdened the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment by forcing Amish parents to send their children to public school after the eighth grade, which violated core Amish religious beliefs requiring them to remain "aloof from the world."


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