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Handout C: Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) Unanimous Opinion

The Supreme Court agreed that the Oregon law requiring children to attend public schools was unconstitutional. The majority opinion stated that the liberty that the United States was established to protect does not allow “any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.” The Court also said that “the right to conduct schools was property, and that parents and guardians, as a part of their liberty, might direct [control] the education of children by selecting reputable [responsible] teachers and places,” and,” “children are not mere creatures of the state.” The Court believed that parents have a right to decide whether their children will be home-schooled or go to a public, private, or religious school. It is not up to the government to decide.

Do you agree with the Court’s ruling? Explain  your answer. What is the importance, if any, of the fact that the ruling in this case was unanimous?