268 U.S. 510 (2017), Pierce v. Society of Sisters

Citation268 U.S. 510, 45 S.Ct. 571, 69 L.Ed. 1070
Party NamePierce v. Society of Sisters
Case DateJune 01, 1925
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 510

268 U.S. 510 (2017)

45 S.Ct. 571, 69 L.Ed. 1070

Pierce

v.

Society of Sisters

United States Supreme Court

June 1, 1925

APPEALS FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON

Syllabus

1. The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments of this Union rest excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. P. 535.

2. The Oregon Compulsory Education Act (Oreg. Ls., § 5259) which, with certain exemptions, requires every parent, guardian or other person having control of a child between the ages of eight and sixteen years to send him to the public school in the district where he resides, for the period during which the school is held for the current year, is an unreasonable interference with the liberty of the parents and guardians to direct the upbringing of the children, and in that respect violates the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 534.

3. In a proper sense, it is true that corporations cannot claim for themselves the liberty guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, and, in general, no person in any business has such an interest in possible customers as to enable him to restrain exercise of proper power by the State upon the ground that he will be deprived of patronage;

4. But where corporations owning and conducting schools are threatened with destruction of their business and property through the improper and unconstitutional compulsion exercised by this statute upon parents and guardians, their interest is direct and immediate, and entitles them to protection by injunction. Truax v. Raich, 239 U.S. 33. P. 535.

5. The Act, being intended to have general application, cannot be construed in its application to such corporations as an exercise of power to amend their charters. Berea College v. Kentucky, 211 U.S. 45. P. 535.

6. Where the injury threatened by an unconstitutional statute is present and real before the statute is to be effective, and will

Page 511

become irreparable if relief be postponed to that time, a suit to restrain future enforcement of the statute is not premature. P. 536.

296 F. 928, affirmed.

APPEALS from decrees of the District Court granting preliminary injunctions restraining the Governor, and other officials, of the State of Oregon from threatening or attempting to enforce an amendment to the school law -- an initiative measure adopted by the people November 7, 1922, to become effective in 1926 -- requiring parents and others having control of young children to send them to the primary schools of the State. The plaintiffs were two Oregon corporations owning and conducting schools.

Page 529

MCREYNOLDS, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

These appeals are from decrees, based upon undenied allegations, which granted preliminary [45 S.Ct. 572] orders restraining

Page 530

appellants from threatening or attempting to enforce the Compulsory Education Act * adopted November 7, 1922, under the initiative provision of her Constitution by the voters of Oregon. Jud.Code, § 266. They present the same points of law; there are no controverted questions of fact. Rights said to be guaranteed by the federal Constitution were specially set up, and appropriate prayers asked for their protection.

The challenged Act, effective September 1, 1926, requires every parent, guardian or other person having control or charge or custody of a child between eight and sixteen years to send him "to a public school for the period of time a public school shall be held during the current year" in the district where the child resides, and failure so to do is declared a misdemeanor. There are

Page 531

exemptions not specially important here -- for children who are not normal, or who have completed he eighth grade, or who reside at considerable distances from any public school, or whose parents or guardians hold special permits from the County Superintendent. The manifest purpose is to compel general attendance at public schools by normal children, between eight and sixteen, who have not completed the eighth grade. And without doubt enforcement of the statute would seriously impair, perhaps destroy, the profitable features of appellees' business and greatly diminish the value of their property.

Appellee, the Society of Sisters, is an Oregon corporation, organized in 1880, with power to care for orphans, educate and instruct the youth, establish and maintain academies or schools, and acquire necessary real and personal

Page 532

property. It has long devoted its property and effort to the secular and religious education and care of children, and has acquired the valuable good will of many parents and guardians. It conducts interdependent primary and high schools and junior colleges, and maintains orphanages for the custody and control of children between eight and sixteen. In its primary schools, many children between those ages are taught the subjects usually pursued in Oregon public schools during the first eight years. Systematic religious instruction and moral training according to the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church are also regularly provided. All courses of study, both temporal and religious, contemplate continuity of training under appellee's charge; the primary schools are essential to the system and the most profitable. It owns valuable buildings, especially constructed and equipped for school purposes. The business is remunerative -- the annual income from primary schools exceeds thirty thousand dollars -- and the successful conduct of this requires long-time contracts with teachers and parents. The Compulsory Education Act of 1922 has already caused the withdrawal from its schools of children who would otherwise continue, and their income has steadily declined. The appellants, public officers, have proclaimed their purpose strictly to enforce the statute.

After setting out the above facts, the Society's bill alleges that the enactment conflicts with the right of parents to choose schools where their children will receive appropriate mental and religious training, the right of the child to influence the parents' choice of a school, the right of schools and teachers therein to engage in a useful business [45 S.Ct. 573] or profession, and is accordingly repugnant to the Constitution and...

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2402 practice notes
  • 202 F.R.D. 377 (E.D.N.Y. 2001), 00-CV-2229, Nicholson v. Williams
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Eastern District of New York
    • August 16, 2001
    ...rights of parents, and the interests of the state as parens patriae, to protect children. See, e.g., Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 45 S.Ct. 571, 69 L.Ed. 1070 (1925) (parent has a fundamental constitutional right to direct the upbringing and education of his or her child); Pag......
  • 252 F.Supp. 234 (W.D.Tex. 1966), Civ. A. 1570, United States v. State of Texas
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Southern District of Texas
    • February 9, 1966
    ...1964, 378 U.S. 500, 84 S.Ct. 1659, 12 L.Ed.2d 992; the right to educate one's children as one chooses, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 1925, 268 U.S. 510, 45 S.Ct. 571, 69 L.Ed. 1070, and the 'freedom to associate and privacy in one's associations.' NAACP v. State of Alabama, 1958, 357 U.S. 4......
  • 319 F.Supp. 1048 (N.D.Ga. 1970), Civ. A. 13676, Doe v. Bolton
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Northern District of Georgia
    • July 31, 1970
    ...States, 277 U.S. 438, 478, 48 S.Ct. 564, 72 L.Ed. 944 (1928) (dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Brandeis); Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 45 S.Ct. 571, 69 L.Ed. 1070 (1925); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 43 S.Ct. 625, 67 L.Ed. 1042 (1923). While the Court agrees that the Pag......
  • 417 F.Supp. 769 (M.D.Ala. 1976), Civ. A. 75-232, Roe v. Conn
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Middle District of Alabama
    • July 6, 1976
    ...this decision was to uphold the right of the parents to have their children taught the German language. In Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 45 S.Ct. 571, 69 L.Ed. 1070 (1925), the Court again recognized this liberty of parents to direct the rearing and education of children, and ......
  • Free signup to view additional results
2053 cases
  • 202 F.R.D. 377 (E.D.N.Y. 2001), 00-CV-2229, Nicholson v. Williams
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Eastern District of New York
    • August 16, 2001
    ...rights of parents, and the interests of the state as parens patriae, to protect children. See, e.g., Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 45 S.Ct. 571, 69 L.Ed. 1070 (1925) (parent has a fundamental constitutional right to direct the upbringing and education of his or her child); Pag......
  • 252 F.Supp. 234 (W.D.Tex. 1966), Civ. A. 1570, United States v. State of Texas
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Southern District of Texas
    • February 9, 1966
    ...1964, 378 U.S. 500, 84 S.Ct. 1659, 12 L.Ed.2d 992; the right to educate one's children as one chooses, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 1925, 268 U.S. 510, 45 S.Ct. 571, 69 L.Ed. 1070, and the 'freedom to associate and privacy in one's associations.' NAACP v. State of Alabama, 1958, 357 U.S. 4......
  • 319 F.Supp. 1048 (N.D.Ga. 1970), Civ. A. 13676, Doe v. Bolton
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Northern District of Georgia
    • July 31, 1970
    ...States, 277 U.S. 438, 478, 48 S.Ct. 564, 72 L.Ed. 944 (1928) (dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Brandeis); Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 45 S.Ct. 571, 69 L.Ed. 1070 (1925); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 43 S.Ct. 625, 67 L.Ed. 1042 (1923). While the Court agrees that the Pag......
  • 417 F.Supp. 769 (M.D.Ala. 1976), Civ. A. 75-232, Roe v. Conn
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Middle District of Alabama
    • July 6, 1976
    ...this decision was to uphold the right of the parents to have their children taught the German language. In Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 45 S.Ct. 571, 69 L.Ed. 1070 (1925), the Court again recognized this liberty of parents to direct the rearing and education of children, and ......
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6 firm's commentaries
  • Data Privacy in a Time of Reaction: "Big Data" versus "The People"
    • United States
    • JD Supra United States
    • February 21, 2017
    ...Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923), Pierce, Governor of Oregon, et al. v. Society of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, 268 U.S. 510 (1925), Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965), Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973). iv See Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament......
  • Yeshivas Sue In Challenge To New York’s “Substantial Equivalency” Guidelines
    • United States
    • LexBlog United States
    • March 8, 2019
    ...protected due process right to control the upbringing and the education of their children, as recognized by Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925), and Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923); and would hamper and inhibit the educational system that is central to Petitioners’ way ......
  • The U.S. Supreme Court Has Spoken – The 14th Amendment Requires States to Recognize Same Sex Marriage
    • United States
    • JD Supra United States
    • June 29, 2015
    ...families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation, and education. See, e.g., Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U. S. 510. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow l......
  • The U.S. Supreme Court Has Spoken – The 14th Amendment Requires States to Recognize Same Sex Marriage
    • United States
    • LexBlog United States
    • June 26, 2015
    ...families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation, and education. See, e.g., Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U. S. 510. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow l......
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323 books & journal articles
  • Is COPA a cop out? The Child Online Privacy Protection Act as proof that parents, not government, should be protecting children's interests on the Internet.
    • United States
    • Fordham Urban Law Journal Vol. 28 Nbr. 6, August 2001
    • August 1, 2001
    ...that the liberty guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment includes the liberty to bring up children); see also Pierce v. Soc'y of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35 (1925) (interpreting Meyer to stand for the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control......
  • THE OTHER PILL: EXPANDING ACCESS TO PRE-EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS TO PREVENT HIV TRANSMISSION AMONG MINORS IN NEW YORK.
    • United States
    • Fordham Urban Law Journal Vol. 44 Nbr. 3, July - July 2017
    • July 1, 2017
    ...in particular the state cannot compel parents to send their children under sixteen to formal high school); Pierce v. Soc'y of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35 (1925) (holding that a state cannot violate due process rights of parents by requiring children attend public school); Meyer v. Nebrask......
  • Beyond Romer and Lawrence: the right to privacy comes out of the closet.
    • United States
    • Columbia Journal of Gender and Law Vol. 15 Nbr. 2, June 2006
    • June 22, 2006
    ...Bd. of Educ. v. LaFleur, 414 U.S. 632, 639-40 (1974), Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399-401 (1923), Pierce v. Soc'y of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35 (1925)). (107) 381 U.S. 479 (1965). (108) 410 U.S. 113 (1973). (109) Id. at 152 (citing Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. at 460, 463-65 (White......
  • The sign and seal of justice.
    • United States
    • Ave Maria Law Review Vol. 7 Nbr. 1, September 2008
    • September 22, 2008
    ...of May 15, 1804, written in another hand than President Jefferson's, cf. Brief on Behalf of Appellee at 17, Pierce v. Soc'y of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925) (No. 583)). This letter was written in response to a March 21, 1804, letter to him by the Ursulines, who were anxious to know if they w......
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