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Supreme Court of the United States
Argued February 23, 1923. ; June 4, 1923, Decided
[*396] [**626] [***1044] MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.
Plaintiff in error was tried and convicted in the District Court for Hamilton County, Nebraska, under an information which charged that on May 25, 1920, while an instructor in Zion Parochial School, he unlawfully taught the subject of reading in the German language to Raymond Parpart, a child of ten years, who had not attained [*397] and successfully passed the eighth grade. The information is based upon "An act relating to the teaching of foreign languages in the State of Nebraska," approved April 9, 1919, which follows [Laws 1919, c. 249.]:
"Section 1. No person, individually or as a teacher, shall, in any private, denominational, parochial or public school, teach any subject to any person in any language other than the English language.
"Sec. 2. Languages, other [****11] than the English language, may be taught as languages only after a pupil shall have attained and successfully passed the eighth grade as evidenced by a certificate of graduation issued by the county superintendent of the county in which the child resides.
"Sec. 3. Any person who violates any of the provisions of this act shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction, shall be subject to a fine of not less than twenty-five dollars ($25), nor more than one hundred dollars ($100) or be confined in the county jail for any period not exceeding thirty days for each offense.
"Sec. 4. Whereas, an emergency exists, this act shall be in force from and after its passage and approval."
The Supreme Court of the State affirmed the judgment of conviction. 107 Neb. 657. It declared the offense charged and established was "the direct and intentional teaching of the German language as a distinct subject to a child who had not passed the eighth grade," in the parochial school maintained by Zion Evangelical Lutheran Congregation, a collection of Biblical stories being used therefor. And it held that the statute forbidding this did not conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment, but [****12] was a valid exercise of the police power. The following excerpts from the opinion sufficiently indicate the reasons advanced to support the conclusion.
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262 U.S. 390 *; 43 S. Ct. 625 **; 67 L. Ed. 1042 ***; 1923 U.S. LEXIS 2655 ****; 29 A.L.R. 1446
MEYER v. STATE OF NEBRASKA.
Prior History: [****1] ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEBRASKA.
ERROR to a judgment of the Supreme Court of Nebraska affirming a conviction for infraction of a statute against teaching of foreign languages to young children in schools.
Disposition: The court reversed the state supreme court's judgment, holding that the Nebraska statute was arbitrary and infringed on the liberty guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
teaching, taught, eighth grade, tongue
Constitutional Law, Substantive Due Process, General Overview, Privacy, Scope, Governments, Police Powers, Education Law, Curriculum, Regulation & Selection, Governmental Authority