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Cude v. State - 237 Ark. 927, 377 S.W.2d 816 (1964)


It is within the police power of the state to require that school children be vaccinated against smallpox, and such requirement does not violate the constitutional rights of anyone, on religious grounds or otherwise. 


Appellants, Archie Cude and his wife, Mary Frances, were the parents of eight children. Three of those children were between the ages of 7 and 15. The children were W.M., age 12, D.M., 10, and L.M., 8. W.M. went only to the second grade. The other two did not attend school at all. The children were not in school because school authorities would not permit them to attend school because they had not been vaccinated against smallpox. The Cudes did not not permit such vaccinations. The Polk Chancery and Probate Courts appointed a guardian for their children and awarded the guardian custody for the purpose of having the children vaccinated for smallpox to facilitate school attendance. The parents appealed, contending that it was contrary to their religion. They claimed they had the legal right to prevent vaccination and that the probate court lacked jurisdiction to appoint the guardian. 


Did the probate court have jurisdiction to appoint a guardian?




The state supreme court found that the probate court had jurisdiction to appoint the guardian under Ark. Const. art. 7, § 34 and 1949 Ark. Acts 140, § 191, and that whatever jurisdiction the juvenile court previously had to appoint guardians was vested in the probate court. The court further found that evidence that the parents would not permit the vaccinations and thereby enable their children to attend school was sufficient to base a finding of neglect. The court added that the religious freedom granted by Ark. Const. art. 2, § 24 did not give the parents the right to deny their children an education. Although laws could not interfere with religious beliefs and opinions, they could interfere with practices. A person's right to exhibit religious freedom ceased where it overlapped and transgressed others' rights.

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