Landmark Court Cases

The following is a list of court cases you may want to know as you seek to defend your freedoms. (Special thanks the Citizens for Excellence in Education for compiling this list)

1. Morrow v. Wood, 35 Wis. 59, 17 Am. Rep. 47 471 (1874)
The schools cannot compel the child to pursue study that is forbidden by the parents.

2. State Ex Rel Sheibley v. School District #1 of Dixon County Et AL. 31 Neb. 552, 48 NW 393 (1891) The right of the parent… to determine what studies his child shall pursue is paramount to that of trustees or teachers.

3. Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923); Yoder; Pierce
The individual citizen has the fundamental right to direct the upbringing of his own children.

4. Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1924)
The court ruled that the state may not unreasonably interfere with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control. A child is not the mere creature of the state.

5. Hardwick v. Bd. of Trustees, 205 p. 49 Cal. (1921)
The court commented that religious reasons were not the only basis for legitimate parental objection. It can also be a question of morals which may concern the conscience of those who are not affiliated with any particular religious sect. The court wrote that this involves:

The right of parents to control their own children — to require them to live up to the teachings and the principles which are inculcated in them at home under the parental authority. Has the state the right to enact a law… the effect of which would be to alienate in a measure the children from parental authority?…to answer…in the affirmative would be to give sanction to a power over home life that might result in denying parents their natural as well as their constitutional right to govern within the scope of just parental authority, their own progeny.

6. Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944)
Parental rights of bringing up children cannot be interfered with, and there must be freedom from all substantial arbitrary impositions and purposeless restraints.

7. Van Allen v. McCleary, 27 Mis. 2d 81; 211 NYS 2d 501 (1961)
Despite the compulsory school attendance laws, the parent retains the right to direct the education of his child.

8. Pie v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497 (1961)
Parental rights of bringing up children cannot be interfered with, and there must be freedom from all substantial arbitrary impositions and purposeless restraints. (Identical to Prince v. Massachusetts.)

9. Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 486 (1965)
The state cannot interfere with the rights of a parent to control his child’s education.

10. Finot v. Pasadena City Board of Education, 58 Cal., Rptr. 520; 250 Cal. 2d 226 (1967)
The state cannot interfere with a parent’s right to make affirmative decisions concerning his child’s disposition, particularly where spiritual, cultural or psychological factors are involved.

11. People Ex Rel. Vollmar v. Stanley, 255 p. 610 Colo. (1927)
Children cannot be compelled to take instruction not essential to good citizenship. The school board’s control over instruction does not mean that every child should be required to take every subject which the board puts on the list.

12. Dickens v. Emesto, 37 A.D. 2d 102, 322 NYS 2d 581 (1971)
The state cannot interfere with a parent’s right to make affirmative decisions concerning his child’s disposition, particularly where spiritual, cultural or psychological factors are involved. (Identical to Finot v. Pasadena.)

13. Vermont v. LaBarge, 357 Atl. Rptr. 2d 121 (1976)
Compulsory school attendance must yield to First Amendment concerns.

14. Wisconsin v. Yodar, 406 U.S. (1972)
The state cannot assert the role of parents (patriae), over the parents’ interest. The state’s interest in universal education, however highly we rank it, is not totally free from a balancing process when it impinges on other fundamental rights and interests, such as those specifically protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the traditional interest of parents with respect to the religious upbringing of their children.

15. Minnesota v. Lundsten, Beltrami County, MN (1980)
Compulsory attendance statutes cannot violate parents’ First Amendment right to free exercise of religion and rights to privacy in family relations.

16. Michigan v. Nobel, Nos. S-791-0114-A, S-791-0115-A (57th O. Ct., City of Allegan, Michigan, Filed 12/12/79.) State statutes must give way to the documented and sincere religious beliefs of the parents to educate their children.

17. Kentucky v. Rudasill, 589 SW 2d 877 (Oct. 9, 1979)
No one can be compelled to send his child to any school to which he may be conscientiously opposed.

18. Ohio v. Whisner, 47 Ohio st. 2d, 181 (1979)
State Department of Education minimum standards cannot deprive parents of their traditional interest to direct the upbringing and education of their children by violating their First and Fourteenth Amendments rights to the U.S. Constitution.

19. Valent v. New Jersey State Bd. of Education, 274 A. 2d 832 N.J. (1971)
Reversed on procedural grounds 288 a. 2d 52 (N.J. 1972).

Concerned parents raised religious objections to their children being required to take a compulsory course entitled Human Sexuality. The school board’s evidence indicated that 70% of the local citizens believed that sex education courses were necessary and beneficial for the students. The court noted that this was not an issue to be decided by majority vote. The judge wrote, “If majority vote were to govern in matters of religion and conscience, there would be no need for the First Amendment, which was adopted to protect the one percent who is sincere in a conscientious religious conviction. In conclusion, the court notes that: If educators are not careful about what they compel, parental discipline and respect will diminish as the great sovereign state forces its way into the home as a foster parent.”

The following list of cases all ruled on The Ultimate Right of Parent to Govern or Control His Own Progeny. (Exact wording of the ruling follows list)

20. Hardwick v. Bd. of Trustees of Fruitridge School District, 54 Cal. App. 696 205 p 49 (1921)

21. Trustees of Schools v. The People Ex Rel Markin Van Allen, 87 111. 303 (1877)

22. Shepherd v. State, 306 p. 2d 346 (1957)
The parent has the ultimate constitutional right to govern or control his own progeny… It would be revolutionary and possibly subversive to hold that any such overreaching powers exist in the state or any of its agencies.

23. From Parental Rights And Responsibilities, Joel S. Moskowitz, 50 Washington Law Review 623 (1975)
When the state chooses to override a parent’s wish, the burden is on the state to establish that in order to function effectively as a citizen one must be versed in the subject to which the parent objects.