A way of life, however virtuous and admirable, may not be interposed as a barrier to reasonable state regulation of education if it is based on purely secular considerations; to have the protection of the Religion Clauses of the United States Constitution, the claims must be rooted in religious belief.
The parents were convicted of violating the state's compulsory public school attendance law. The parents practiced the Amish and Mennonite religions and argued that the compulsory school attendance law and sending their children to public school after the eighth grade violated their right to free exercise of religious expression, religious beliefs and threatened their religious way of life.
Did the compulsory school attendance law violate ones right to religious freedom?
The Court found that the parents' fundamental religious belief that they should remain "aloof from the world" was endangered by the enforcement of the public education laws. Although neutral on its face, the compulsory school attendance law unduly burdened the Free Exercise Clause. The parents educated their children at home in practical pursuits and prepared them to become functioning adults in their communities. The court held that accommodating the parents' religious objections by forgoing one or two additional years of compulsory education would not impair the physical or mental health of the child, result in an inability to be self-supporting or to discharge the duties and responsibilities of citizenship, or in any other way materially detract from societal welfare.