Freedom to Differ: Teaching the Barnette Flag Salute Case

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As the national conversation turns toward flag salutes among sports figures, the Flag Salute cases that the U.S. Supreme Court took on during World War II, in 1940 and 1943, provide a window for discussion in the social studies classroom. This session considers the Court's ruling in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), which overturned Minersville School District v. Gobitis (1940). 


Session Materials

Five primary source documents

U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Minersville School District v. Gobitis

U.S. Supreme Court opinion in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette

Timeline of Key Events


Additional Resources

Ferguson, Robert A. “The Judicial Opinion as Literary Genre,” Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities (1990)

The Flag Salute Case: West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette Lesson Plan, Robert H. Jackson Center (2010)

Interview with Lillian Gobitas Klose on Gobitis Case, Robert H. Jackson Center (2010)

Interview with Marie Barnett Snodgrass on Barnette Case, Robert H. Jackson Center (2003)

Magliocca, Gerard. “The Bill of Rights as a Term of Art,” Notre Dame Law Review (2016)

Peterson, Gregory L; Prettyman, E. Barrett Jr.; Peters, Shawn Francis; Boskey, Bennett; Edmonds, Gathie Barnett; Snodgrass, Marie Barnett; and Barrett, John Q., “Recollections of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette,” St. John’s Law Review (2012)

Snyder, Brad. “Frankfurter and Popular Constitutionalism,” UC Davis Law Review (2013)

Sutton, Jeffrey S. “Barnette, Frankfurter, and Judicial Review,” Marquette Law Review (2012) 

Toobin, Jeffrey. “Colin Kaepernick and a Landmark Supreme Court Case,” The New Yorker (2016)

Tsai, Robert. “Reconsidering Gobitis: An Exercise in Presidential Leadership,” Washington University Law Review” (2008) 

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