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Pierce v. Society of Sisters

Citation. Pierce v. Soc’y of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 45 S. Ct. 571, 69 L. Ed. 1070, 39 A.L.R. 468 (U.S. June 1, 1925)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Appellees, two non-public schools, were protected by a preliminary restraining order prohibiting appellants from enforcing an Oregon Act that required parents and guardians to send their children to public school. Appellants appealed the order.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The 14th Amendment provides a liberty interest in a parent’s or guardian’s right to decide the mode in which their children are educated. State’s may not usurp this right when the questioned legislation does not reasonably relate to a viable state interest.


Appellee the Society of Sisters, a corporation with the power to establish and maintain academies or schools and Appellee Hill Military Academy, a private organization conducting an elementary, college preparatory, and military training school, obtained preliminary restraining orders prohibiting appellants from enforcing Oregon’s Compulsory Education Act. The Act required all parents and guardians to send children between 8 and 16 years to a public school. The appellants appealed the granting of the preliminary restraining orders.


Does the Act unreasonably interfere with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control?


The Act violates the 14th Amendment because it interferes with protected liberty interests and has no reasonable relationship to any purpose within the competency of the state.
The Appellees have standing because the result of enforcing the Act would be destruction of the appellees’ schools. The state has the power to regulate all schools, but parents and guardians have the right and duty to choose the appropriate preparation for their children.


While the state has the right to insure that children receive a proper education, the 14th Amendment provides parents and guardians with a liberty interest in their choice in the mode in which their children are educated.

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