West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), is a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that held that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protected students from being forced to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance in school.
In West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 1943, 319 U.S. 624, 63 S.Ct. 1178, 87 L.Ed. 1628, the Supreme Court, overruling Minersville School District v. Gobitis, 1940, 310 U.S. 586, 60 S.Ct. 1010, 84 L.Ed. 1375, held that a West Virginia State Board of Education resolution which required children, as a prerequisite to their continued attendance at public school, to salute the flag and recite the pledge, wasunconstitutional as applied to children of Jehovah's Witnesses since it denied them freedom of speech and freedom of worship. In rejecting the resolution the court held that the state could not "prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion," nor can the state "force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein." The majority (it was a 6-3 vote) found that the freedom asserted to refuse to participate in the flag salute did not interfere with or deny the rights of others to participate.
The standards established in Barnette have been expanded and clarified by subsequent lower court rulings. The Maryland Supreme Court invalidated a requirement that students objecting to the flag salute stand while the rest of the class recited the Pledge of Allegiance. See State v. Lundquist, 278 A. 2d 263 (1971). In 1973, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a school to allow a student to remain quietly seated during the flag salute. See Goetz v. Ansell, 477 F.2d 636 (2d. Cir. 1973).
In 2002, Section 171.021, RSMo (Missouri Revised Statutes) was amended to state that "every school in this state which is supported in whole or in part by public moneys shall ensure that the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America is recited in at least one scheduled class of every pupil enrolled in that school no less often than once per week. No student shall be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance."
I want to print these out on a single sheet of paper and carry them with me so that next time my theater teacher- or anyone else, for that bloody matter- tells me I have to stand during the Pledge I can refuse, then hand her the paper.
None of these cases are in a court in my state, but I think the general message is pretty clear.