Washington Law Review




Defendants, members of the Old Order Amish religion and of the Conservative Amish Mennonite Church, refused to enroll their children, eighth-grade public school graduates, in public high school and were subsequently convicted of violating the Wisconsin Compulsory School Attendance Law. The trial court held the attendance law to be a reasonable exercise of a governmental function of the state even though the law interfered with the defendants' sincere religious beliefs. The convictions and assessments of fines were affirmed by the circuit court. On appeal, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reversed. Held: The Wisconsin Compulsory School Attendance Law, as applied to the Amish, infringes upon their religious liberty and, because it serves no compelling state interest, violates the free exercise clause of the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. State v. Yoder, 49 Wis.2d 430, 182 N.W.2d 539, cert. granted, 402 U.S. 994 (1971).2

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