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 parents' fundamental right to freedom of religion.
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."
"...sustained respondents' claim that application of the compulsory school-attendance law to them violated their rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment."
"I agree with the Court that the religious scruples of the Amish are opposed to the education of their children beyond the grade schools, yet I disagree with the Court's conclusion that the matter is within the dispensation of parents alone. The Court's analysis assumes that the only interests at stake in the case are those of the Amish parents on the one hand, and those of the State on the other. The difficulty with this approach is that, despite the Court's claim, the parents are seeking to vindicate not only their own free exercise claims, but also those of their high-school-age children....
On this important and vital matter of education, I think the children should be entitled to be heard. While the parents, absent dissent, normally speak for the entire family, the education of the child is a matter on which the child will often have decided views. He may want to be a pianist or an astronaut or an oceanographer. To do so he will have to break from the Amish tradition.
It is the future of the students, not the future of the parents, that is imperiled by today's decision. If a parent keeps his child out of school beyond the grade school, then the child will be forever barred from entry into the new and amazing world of diversity that we have today. The child may decide that that is the preferred course, or he may rebel. It is the student's judgment, not his parents', that is essential if we are to give full meaning to what we have said about the Bill of Rights and of the right of students to be masters of their own destiny. If he is harnessed to the Amish way of life by those in authority over him and if his education is truncated, his entire life may be stunted and deformed. The child, therefore, should be given an opportunity to be heard before the State gives the exemption which we honor today."
"Since Wisconsin v. Yoder, all states must grant the Old Order Amish the right to establish their own schools (should they choose) or to withdraw from public institutions after completing eighth grade. In some communities Amish parents have continued to send their children to public elementary schools even after Wisconsin v. Yoder. In most places tensions eased considerably after the Supreme Court ruling, although certain difficulties remained for those Amish living in Nebraska."
32 IOWA STUDENTS EARN HONORS AT 2011 NATIONAL HISTORY DAY CONTEST AKRON-WESTFIELD STUDENTS EARN FIRST PLACE IN JUNIOR GROUP EXHIBIT CATEGORY.
Jun 22, 2011; DES MOINES, IA -- The following information was released by the Iowa State Historical Society: A trio of Iowa students took top...