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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. SAMUEL L. SMOKER (01/14/55)

January 14, 1955

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
SAMUEL L. SMOKER, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 15, October T., 1955, from judgment of Court of Quarter Sessions of Lancaster County, Dec. T., 1953, No. 133, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Samuel L. Smoker. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Charles W. Eaby and W. Hensel Brown, Lancaster, for appellant.

Elmer T. Bolla, Deputy Attorney General, with him William C. Storb, District Attorney, Anthony R. Appel, Solicitor, and Frank F. Truscott, Attorney General, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Ross, Gunther, Wright and Ervin, JJ. (woodside, J., absent).

Author: Gunther

[ 177 Pa. Super. Page 436]

OPINION BY GUNTHER, J.,

Samuel L. Smoker, defendant, was convicted for violating the provisions of the Public School Code of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30. He is the father of Mervin Smoker who was assigned to the elementary school in Leacock Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The testimony disclosed that defendant refused his son attendance to school because of religious belief which prevents parents of the Amish faith from sending their children to school after they attain the age of fourteen and have completed the eighth grade of

[ 177 Pa. Super. Page 437]

    public school. Mervin finished eighth grade and was over fourteen years of age.

On or about December 29, 1953, defendant filed with the Secretary of the School District of the above township an application for a farm work permit for Mervin on the ground that it was necessary for him to be at home to help with the work, and to assist in taking care of defendant's sick father. The permit, with the Secretary's approval, was sent to the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. On January 6, 1954, permit was refused on the ground that there was an older son available for the purposes requested in the application.

It is contended that compulsory school attendance as applied here is contrary to the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 3, Constitution of Pennsylvania in respect to the guarantees of religious freedom. This question has already been decided by this Court in Commonwealth v. Beiler, 168 Pa. Superior Ct. 462, 79 A.2d 134. The Beiler case likewise involved Amish defendants with children who had completed the eighth grade and attained the age of fourteen. We held that the Public School Code was not violative of our Constitution and that decisions of the United States Supreme Court were clear on the issue and determined the matter. We adhere to our decision and to the reasoning so lucidly set forth by Judge RENO in the Beiler case.

Defendant also contends that he is not guilty because his son should have been granted a work permit. Section 1330 of the Public School Code, 24 PS ยง 13-1330, provides for exemption from compulsory school attendance if a child is fourteen years old, has completed the eighth grade, and has received ...


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