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Law School Case Brief

Murphy v. Arkansas - 852 F.2d 1039 (8th Cir. 1988)


A person's decision whether to bear a child and a parent's decision concerning the manner in which his child is to be educated may fairly be characterized as exercises of familial rights and responsibilities. But it does not follow that because the government is largely or even entirely precluded from regulating the child-bearing decision, it is similarly restricted by the Constitution from regulating the implementation of parental decisions concerning a child's education.


The parents challenged the constitutionality of the Arkansas Home School Act. The district court upheld the constitutionality of the law and the parents appealed.


Does the government have a compelling interest in the education of children?




The court found that the possibilities that a school away from home was more formal, that many families sending their children to a private school might be indicative of quality, and that those paying money for education might demand their money's worth could provide Arkansas with a passable reason for the challenged distinction under the minimum rationality standards of the equal protection clause. While bearing children and educating them were both familial rights, even though the government was precluded from regulating the child-bearing decision, it was not similarly restricted from regulating parental decisions as to a child's education.

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