Pierce vs Society of Sisters


Two Minute Supreme Court Case Summary : Pierce v Society of Sisters


After the first World War, some states concerned about the "foreign" values of immigrants looked to the public schools for help. The states then drafted new laws designed to use public schools to promote one common American culture. Then two Private schools, a Catholic and a military school, sued the governor of Oregon for passing such a law. Saying that it infringed on their first and fourteenth amendment rights.

Constitutional Reference/ Issue before the Court

The Sisters claimed that this law violated their first amendment right to freedom of religion, and their fourteenth amendment right regarding to protection of property, saying that they are protected by substantive due process.


The courts ruled in favor of The Sisters saying that it is up to the parents how the children will be taught and that the ability to make that choice was a liberty protected by the fourteenth amendment.

Historic Significance

This marked the beginning of a more liberal interpretation of Due Process. It officially marked the first time that the courts allowed the fourteenth amendment to apply to entities other than people.

Significance Today

This case is still upheld today stating that parents can have their children educated in a school without the state mandating where it is, and how it should be done. Keeping kids in a situation of their own choosing.

Future Significance

This will continue to protect the education of children and keep them out of the absolute control of the state. Allowing for a furthering of kids educations at different levels in different places.