of the Supreme Court.
for teachers to use after group presentations of the five case studies.
Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943)
won. The Court in essence reversed the Gobitis decision handed down
only three years earlier. In the majority opinion, Justice Robert
Jackson wrote, "If there is a 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
v. United States (1970)
won. The Court decided that Welsh's moral convictions functioned
as a religion in his life, whether or not Welsh called himself religious.
Therefore, he was allowed conscientious-objector status.
of Wisconsin v. Jonas Yoder, et. al. (1972)
won. The Court found that the Amish way of life is church-oriented.
Having the children attend high school put that way of life at risk.
Allowing the Amish to maintain their community was judged more important
than compulsory education. The Court did say, however, that the
state could develop standards for the continuing education to be
provided by the parents and church.
Employment Division v. Smith (1990)
won. The Court ruled 6-3 that governments may prohibit the use of
drugs in religious ceremonies. Judge Antonin Scalia, writing for
the majority, stated "the Court has never held that an individual's
religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid
law prohibiting conduct that government is free to regulate." The
ruling effectively abolished the requirement that governments show
a "compelling interest" that should be protected in favor of religious
freedom. Many religious groups were alarmed by the ruling. Congress
has since passed legislation specifically protecting the rights
of Native American churches to use drugs in their ceremonies.
of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. Hialeah (1993)
of the Lukumi Babalu Aye won. The Court unanimously sided with the
church, which had argued that the city zoning laws barring sacrifices
unfairly singled out an unpopular minority faith (Santeria) in violation
of the Free Exercise Clause. The Supreme Court stated, "The Free
Exercise Clause protects against governmental hostility which is
masked as well as overt. … The Free Exercise Clause commits government
itself to religious tolerance, and upon even slight suspicion that
proposals for state intervention stem from animosity to religion
or distrust of its practices, all officials must pause to remember
their own high duty to the Constitution and to the rights it secures."