Wisconsin vs Yoder

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Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), is the case in which the United States Supreme Court found that Amish children could not be placed under compulsory education past 8th grade, as it violated their fundamental right to freedom of religion. Three Amish students from three different families stopped attending New Glarus High School in the New Glarus, Wisconsin school district at the end of the eighth grade, all due to their religious beliefs. The three families were represented by Jonas Yoder (one of the fathers involved in the case) when the case went to trial. They were convicted in the Green County Court, and that ruling was upheld in the appeals court. Each defendant was fined the sum of $5 dollars. Thereafter the Wisconsin Supreme Court found in Yoder's favor. At this point Wisconsin appealed that ruling in the U. S. Supreme Court. The Amish did not believe in going to court to settle disputes but instead follow the biblical command to "turn the other cheek." Thus, the Amish are at a disadvantage when it comes to defending themselves in courts or before legislative committees. However, a Lutheran minister took an interest in Amish legal difficulties from a religious freedom perspective and founded The National Committee For Amish Religious Freedom (partly as a result of this case) and then provided them with legal counsel. The U. S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Yoder in a 7 to 0 decision, although Justice William O. Douglas filed a partial dissent. The Court found that, "the evidence showed that the Amish provide continuing informal vocational education to their children designed to prepare them for life in the rural Amish community. The evidence also showed that respondents sincerely believed that high school attendance was contrary to the Amish religion and way of life and that they would endanger their own salvation and that of their children by complying with the law and that the sustained respondents' claim that...
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