Pierce v. Society of Sisters

Pierce v. Society of Sisters involved a challenge by a religiously affiliated school to an Oregon law requiring that all children between the ages of eight and 16 attend public school. Specifically, the Society of Sisters claimed that the law interfered with parents’ right to send their children to a school where they would receive religious training. The Supreme Court struck down the compulsory education law on the grounds that it did unconstitutionally interfere with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of their children. While the Court noted that states may reasonably regulate their schools, set standards for teachers and pupils, and require that all children of a certain age attend some school, the government may not force children to attend public schools. Short of some evidence that a religious school is not fit to educate children, the government may not prevent parents from choosing a religious school for their children.

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