Saturday, September 10, 2016


It was 1943 and a Jehovah's Witness named Barnette brought suit against the West Virginia Board of Education. His faith forbids Witness's from pledging allegiance to symbols, including political symbols. The Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 in favor of Barnette,

This is an excerpt from the decision delivered by Justice Robert Jackson.

To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds.
But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.
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 or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

Jackson went on to serve as chief prosecutor from the US during the first of the Nuremberg trials.   


No comments: