Jehovah’s Witnesses Fight for Rights 1943

Fear, suspicion, and nationalism boiled over into violence against Jehovah’s Witnesses during World War II. Persecuted for their refusal to salute the flag and enlist in the military, the Jehovah’s Witnesses mounted a series of legal battles in their defense. Between 1938 and 1946, 23 of their cases were decided in the United States Supreme Court. Their victories strengthened First Amendment rights for all Americans.

One of those victories came on Flag Day in 1943. The Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia v. Barnette that the First Amendment bars the state from forcing children to salute the flag, reversing the decision in a similar case just three years earlier.