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Argument for Pierce, Governor.
No claim can arise that the school children themselves are deprived, by this law, of liberty without due process of law. It will be admitted by all that children under sixteen years of age cannot be given liberty of choice as to their education; this must be under the control either of the State, or of their parents, or of both the State and their parents. If any persons have been deprived of liberty without due process of law it is the parents of the school children. The determination of this last point brings us to the question of the respective authority of the State and of parents over minor children.
Even in the freest country no person can possess absolutely uncontrolled liberty, either with respect to himself personally, or to his children. A parent cannot have a more complete right of control over the actions of his child than over his own actions. Liberty of all is subject to reasonable conditions deemed essential by the governing body to the safety, health, peace, good order and morals of the community. Crawley v. Christensen, 137 U. S. 86; Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U. S. 11.
Under all governments, even those which are the most free and democratic in their character, the citizen must always owe duties to the State; and it necessarily follows that the State has an interest in making it certain (which can only be done by appropriate legislation) that the citizen is fitted, both in mind and body, to perform these duties. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, supra. The discretionary powers of a State are broad enough to permit it to decide that compulsory attendance at public schools is a proper "precautionary measure against the moral pestilence of paupers, vagabonds, and possibly convicts." Mayor, etc. of New York v. Miln, 11 Pet. 102.
The voters of Oregon who adopted this law had the right to act on the belief that the fact that the great increase in juvenile crime in the United States followed so closely after the great increase in the number of chil
Argument for Pierce, Governor.
dren in the United States who were not attending public schools, was more than a coincidence. The voters in Oregon might also have based their action in adopting this law upon the alarm which they felt at the rising tide of religious suspicions in this country, and upon their belief that the basic cause of such religious feelings was the separation of children along religious lines during the most susceptible years of their lives, with the inevitable awakening of a consciousness of separation, and a distrust and suspicion of those from whom they were so carefully guarded. The voters of Oregon might have felt that the mingling together, during a portion of their education, of the children of all races and sects, might be the best safeguard against future internal dissentions and consequent weakening of the community against foreign dangers.
In Mayor, etc. of New York v. Miln, supra, this Court was considering the evil effects upon a State of the immigration of ignorant foreigners, unacquainted with, and lacking sympathy with, American institutions and ideals. In this connection, it should be remembered that the vast majority of children not now attending the public schools of Oregon who will be compelled to do so by the new statute, are either themselves immigrants or the children of immigrants. Surely a State can require of all immigrants admitted to the advantages and opportunities of life in the United States, that their children shall be taught by the State the English language, and the character of American institutions and government. Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U. S. 390, distinguished.
The compulsory attendance of all children of school age at the public schools during the relatively short hours during which these schools are in session would not deprive the parents of any just rights. There would remain an abundance of time and opportunity for supplementary instruction either in religion or in the language, history, and traditions of the land of their ancestors. The ob
Argument for Pierce, Governor.
jectionable feature about the Nebraska law was that it forbade the teaching of modern languages either in regular schools or in supplementary schools. The dicta in the Meyer Case would appear to be somewhat broader than can be supported by the previous decisions of this Court which are cited to support it.
The subject of immigration is one which is exclusively under the control of the Central Government. The States have nothing to say as to the number or class of the immigrants who may be permitted to settle within their limits. It would therefore appear to be both unjust and unreasonable to prevent them from taking the steps which each may deem necessary and proper for Americanizing its new immigrants and developing them into patriotic and law-abiding citizens. At present, the vast majority of the private schools in the country are conducted by members of some particular religious belief. They may be followed, however, by those organized and controlled by believers in certain economic doctrines entirely destructive of the fundamentals of our government. Can it be contended that there is no way in which a State can prevent the entire education of a considerable portion of its future citizens being controlled and conducted by bolshevists, syndicalists and communists?
The exact question involved in the present case has never been passed upon by any American court. Perhaps the cases which come nearest are those on whether the school authorities have the right to exclusive control over the list of studies to be taken by pupils in the public schools, or whether the parents have a limited right of selection. The decisions on this question are in hopeless conflict. In New Hampshire (Kidder v. Chelis, 59 N. H. 473) Indiana (State v. Webber, 108 Ind. 31,) and Iowa (State v. Mizner, 50 Ia. 145,) the power of the public is held exclusive; while in Illinois (School Trustees v. People, 87 Ill. 303,) Oklahoma (School Board District v.
Argument for Pierce, Governor.
Thompson, 24 Okla. 1,) and Wisconsin (Morrow v. Wood, 35 Wis. 59,) some right of control has been held to belong to the parent. This Court has twice recently, in the child labor cases, (Hammer v. Dagenhart, 247 U. S. 251, and Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co., 259 U. S. 20,) held that all questions relative to the care, control and custody of minor children belong exclusively to the State.
The Oregon law does not deny the equal protection of the law. The whole opposition arises from the fact that it is intended to bring about a greater equality in the operation of the school law of Oregon than has previously existed. A law which increases the uniformity of the application of a law cannot by any stretch of the imagination be classed as a law which denies the equal protection of the law. The new Oregon School Law merely removes an exception to the generality of the application of the former law. The right to the equal protection of the laws is not denied when it is apparent that the same law or course of procedure is applicable to every other person in the State under similar circumstances and conditions. Walston v. Nevin, 128 U. S. 582; Tinsley v. Anderson, 171 U. S. 106; Williams v. Arkansas, 217 U. S. 79.
If the compulsory school laws of the other States are constitutional, this law must be held so. If a State may pass a law applying to a certain portion of the things or persons included in a general class, it can pass one applying to all in a general class, unless express exceptions are to be found in the prohibitions in the Federal Constitution. Fisher v. St. Louis, 194 U. S. 361. The constitutionality of the Oregon law can be sustained as an exercise of the police power of the State. The scope of this power is very broad. Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co. v. Illinois, 200 U. S. 561; Bacon v. Walker, 204 U. S. 311; Mayor, etc. of New York v. Miln, 11 Pet. 102. This law may also be sustained under the powers of the State in connection with its duties to aid the United States in time of war. Arver v. United States, 245 U. S. 366; Holdman v. United States, 245 U. S.
Argument for Military Academy.
474; Ruthenberg v. United States, 245 U. S. 480; Cox v. Wood, 247 U. S. 3; Frohwerk v. United States, 249 U. S. 204; Debs v. United States, 249 U. S. 211; McKinley v. United States, 249 U. S. 397. The power and duty to be prepared for war is shared by the state government. Gilbert v. Minnesota, 254 U. S. 325; Halter v. Nebraska, 205 U. S. 34.
The discretion of the States in the exercise of their powers is broad enough to justify a State in holding that a compulsory system of public school education will encourage the patriotism of its citizens, and train its younger citizens to become more willing and more efficient defenders of the United States in times of public danger. This is particularly true in view of the fact that if the Oregon School Law is declared unconstitutional there will be nothing to prevent the establishment of private schools, the main purpose of which will be to teach disloyalty to the United States, or at least the theory of the moral duty to refuse to aid the United States even in the case of a defensive war. If a State cannot compel certain children to attend the public schools it cannot compel any children to do so. An attempt to do so would be clearly a violation of the "equal protection of the laws" clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Mr. John C. Veatch, for appellee in No. 584.
Any restrictions upon the rights of the individual are arbitrary and oppressive unless intended to promote the public welfare and having a reasonable relation to that purpose. Purity Extract Co. v. Lynch, 226 U. S. 192; McLean v. Arkansas, 211 U. S. 539. Where the legislative action is arbitrary and has no reasonable relation to a purpose which it is competent for the Government to effect, the legislature transcends the limits of its power in interfering with the liberty of contract. C. B. & Q. R. R. Co. v. McGuire, 219 U. S. 549; Atlantic Coast Line v. Goldboro, 232 U. S. 559; House v. Mayes, 219 U. S. 270; Reduction Company v. Sanitary Works, 199 U. S.