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Pierce v. Society of the Sisters

Citation. 268 U.S. 510 (1925)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Oregon’s Compulsory Education Act caused students to withdraw from plaintiffs’ private school.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

States cannot require parents and guardians to send their children to public schools instead of private schools. Parents and guardians have the liberty to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control.


Oregon’s Compulsory Education Act of 1922 required parents and guardians to send children ages eight through sixteen to public school, and made the failure to do so a misdemeanor, with some exceptions. The Act caused many students to withdraw from private schools run by the Society of Sisters.


Did Oregon’s Compulsory Education Act of 1922 violate plaintiffs’ due process rights?


Yes, Oregon’s Compulsory Education Act of 1922 violated plaintiffs’ due process rights.


The Supreme Court held that the Act unreasonably interfered with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control. To abridge constitutional rights, legislation must have a reasonable relation to a purpose within the state’s competency. The Supreme Court concluded that the Act was an arbitrary, unreasonable, and unlawful interference.

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