Paper One

Paper One - Yip 1 Stacey Yip Zeynep Bulut DOC 2 Section A12...

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Yip 1 Stacey Yip Zeynep Bulut DOC 2: Section A12 8 February 2010 Transforming Justice From the time it was written, the Pledge of Allegiance has always been a controversial classroom ceremony. As an oath of patriotism, one swears to be loyal to the United States and proclaims that America is one indivisible nation that seeks liberty and justice for all. While many view this oath as unifying, some refuse to participate in the ceremony because it goes against their religion. In two similar cases, students who identified themselves as Jehovah’s witnesses refused to follow the rules in reciting the pledge. They were concerned that reciting the pledge would be blasphemy because it went against what the Bible explicitly says about bowing down to false gods that can be represented as symbols or images. Because the students disobeyed the rules, the consequences lead to expulsion and even fines for truancy. Protesting that their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated, the students brought their case to the Supreme Court. The issues of the case focused on whether the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. In the case of Minersville School District v. Gobitis (1940) , Justice Frankfurter argued that requiring students to say the pledge of allegiance was a civic responsibility to foster patriotism, winning the majority vote of the Supreme Court eight to one. However, this vote was overturned three years later in the case of West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), where Justice Jackson reversed the majority. The Supreme Court’s profound shift in opinion shows the change in the theory of a just society through the ideas of justice, patriotism, and social contract, leading towards today’s values of freedom of speech and the protection of
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Yip 2 individual rights. In both cases, the primary issue at hand was the idea of justice. Were the children’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion violated? Justice Frankfurter reasoned that no rights were violated at all, and even went on to say that it was unconstitutional to exempt the children from reciting the pledge on the basis or religion: “The constitutional protection of religious freedom…gave religious equality, not civil immunity. Its essence is freedom from conformity to religious dogma, not freedom from conformity to law because of religious dogma” (Barnette 128). Frankfurter claimed that religious equality is not the same as civil immunity. One cannot use religion as an excuse to exempt oneself from the law. Because Frankfurter believed that no rights were violated, he therefore viewed the rule of saying the pledge as just. In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. said that, “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws” (King 15). Frankfurter argued that Americans have a responsibility to obey and abide by just laws, and that
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  • Winter '08
  • Wimberley
  • Supreme Court of the United States, First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Civil and political rights, Justice Jackson

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Paper One - Yip 1 Stacey Yip Zeynep Bulut DOC 2 Section A12...

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