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Pastor, Church & Law

written by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Wisconsin v. Yoder

Volume 4 . Chapter 12 . § 12-07

Wisconsin v. Yoder38 § 12-07

The Yoder case involved the constitutionality of applying a state compulsory attendance law to Old Order Amish children who had completed the eighth grade. The principal significance of the decision lies in the Court's construction of the "free exercise clause" of the First Amendment. After emphasizing that "only those interests of the highest order and those not otherwise served can overbalance legitimate claims to the free exercise of religion,"39 the Court enunciated a three-pronged test for assessing the constitutionality of governmental action under the free exercise clause:

  1. Is the activity interfered with by the state motivated by and rooted in legitimate and sincerely held religious belief?
  2. Is the activity interfered with by the state unduly and substantially burdened to the extent of affecting religious practice?

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