National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1931-1946: We meet crisis in the Depression, and again in World War II

June 14, 1943
Can the government force us to salute the flag?

Children salute flag in public school

If 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...
– Justice Robert Jackson
West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette

Walter Barnette said that his children were not being disloyal when they refused to salute the flag at school. They were being true to their religious beliefs as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Supreme Court agreed, reversing a decision made three years ago. Today, on Flag Day, in the midst of war, the Court ruled that it’s unconstitutional to make someone participate in patriotic activities.

The Court says that forcing anyone to salute the flag and pledge allegiance invades the “sphere of intellect and spirit” our First Amendment protects.

Read about it in the New York times

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