The cases brought by the Jehovah's Witnesses in the early 1940s prompted the Supreme Court to confront the situations that occurred when children's interests came into conflict with parental rights over religious issues. With Minersville v. Gobitis in 1940, the Court held that the expulsion of Witness children from public schools did not constitute a violation of the religious rights of parents even though the objection was religiously based. The Court overturned this decision three years later with West Virginia v. Barnette, ruling that such expulsions did, in fact, violate the religious rights of the parents involved. It was in 1944 with the case of Prince v. Massachusetts that the rights of children became a point of consideration, and the Court decided firmly in favor of children's rights, ruling that the interests of children trumped parental religious beliefs. This precedent, coupled with the Children's Rights Revolution of the 1960s, is still the guiding principle in religious free exercise cases involving children's rights.
Advisor(s) or Committee Chair
Patricia H. Minter
Tharpe, Kimberly A., "Train Up A Child In The Way He Should Go: The Jehovah's Witness' Supreme Court Cases of the Early 1940s" (2005). Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects. Paper 184.