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West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), is a decision by the United States Supreme Court holding that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment protects students from being forced to salute the American flag or say the Pledge of Allegiance in public school. The Court's 6–3 decision, delivered by Justice Robert H. Jackson, is remembered for its forceful defense of free speech and constitutional rights generally as being placed "beyond the reach of majorities and officials."
Barnette overruled a 1940 decision on the same issue, Minersville School District v. Gobitis, in which the Court stated that the proper recourse for dissent was to try to change the public school policy democratically. It was a significant court victory won by Jehovah's Witnesses, whose religion forbade them from saluting or pledging to symbols, including symbols of political institutions. However, the Court did not address the effect the compelled salutation and recital ruling had upon their particular religious beliefs but instead ruled that the state did not have the power to compel speech in that manner for anyone. In overruling Gobitis the Court primarily relied on the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment rather than the Free Exercise Clause.