Wisconsin Vs Yoder

January 18, 2013
The Supreme Court takes on a lot of different cases they feel need to be addressed to uphold the Constitution. Their job is to decide whether the case has common good or individual rights, and who should win. Very rarely are there cases that balance common good and individual rights perfectly, but they can get very close. The case Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeier shows a good example of this. Another good example that can be compared with that case is Wisconsin vs. Yoder, because that case shows a strong individual rights point of view.

The case Wisconsin vs. Yoder is about how the state of Wisconsin wanted to force the old order Amish Religion to have their kids go to school until the compulsory attendance law, which is 16. This goes against the Amish’s ways of sending children to school until the eighth grade, and then they will go to Amish school and learn the ways of their religion. The state of Wisconsin argued that if the Amish children decided not to become a part of the religious group, then they would become burdens on the state. The state said they needed to have education till at least the age 16, so they would have some high school, and that is exactly what forcing their children into high school would do. If the law was to pass, the Amish living in Wisconsin would be forced to move to more heavily Amish populated areas. The Supreme Court agreed with the Amish and stated, “There is no specific evidence of the loss of Amish adherents by attrition, nor is there any showing that upon leaving the Amish community Amish children, with their practical agricultural training and habits of industry and self reliance, would become burdens on society because of education short-comings.” This case was an example on individual rights for the Amish.

The case Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeier is something totally different than the first case. This case was about how students in the Journalism class in Hazelwood east high school created a school newspaper that featured stories about teen pregnancy, divorce, sex and birth control. When the principal reviewed the paper before he was published, he saw all the things the article featured and found it inappropriate for 9th graders to read. The principle wanted the class to modify the paper, but it was almost the end of the school year and they would miss deadline and no one would get to read the paper. The principle had the offending articles deleted and the rest of the paper published. The students felt that their 1st amendment had been violated and they took it to court. The court agreed 5 to 3 with the school, because once you enter a school, you lose rights. This case had good balancing skills between common good and individual rights.

Wisconsin vs. Yoder shows a case of Individual rights because of it only affecting the Amish community. When the court discussed this case, they decided that if any Amish citizen decided to leave the community, that their lack of education would not become a burden on the state because of their knowledge of agriculture. This is not a common good, because it only affects a certain group. Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeier doesn’t just affect one group of people; it affects the whole school and the community around them. By not allowing the journalism class to run their inappropriate stories, the principle was looking out for the common good of the whole school. The students argued that their first amendment rights were violated, but in reality, everyone loses rights as soon as they walk into a school for the safety of everyone. The students had all their rights at the local paper. So if they really felt that strongly about their hard work, they could submit it there. This shows a good balance because the students still had their individual rights, just outside of the school. And there was some common good by not running the stories, because of immature students.

The court case that showed the best balance of common good and individual rights was Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeier, because the students still had all their rights outside the school, but the stories were pulled because of the common good to all the other students. A good case to compare this to would be Wisconsin Vs Yoder, because their case has no other effect on anyone but the Amish group, and that’s a perfect example of Individual rights.

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