Benjamin King


After an arduous journey of more than four years that Wallace Miller, Jonas Yoder, and Adin Yutzy began in New Glarus, WI, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in Wisconsin v. Yoder , 406 U.S. 205 on May 15, 1972. In affirming the Supreme Court of Wisconsin’s decision reversing the convictions of Miller, Yoder, and Yutzy (Respondents) for violating the compulsory school attendance statute, the U.S. Supreme Court found that enforcement of the statute violated the Respondents’ rights pursuant to the free exercise of religion clause conferred by the First Amendment and made applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Chief Justice Warren Burger’s majority opinion created a four part “Compelling Interest Test.” First, a party must demonstrate a sincere and truly religious claim. Next, the party must show that the government action is injurious to religious practice. The burden then shifts to the State to show that the State action is necessitated by a Compelling State Interest. Finally, the State must demonstrate that no other alternative means is available to make the contemplated action less burdensome to religious liberty (Ball 2003, 256). [First paragraph.]