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| | |-+  Fourteenth Amendment, Meyer v. Nebraska
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Author Topic: Fourteenth Amendment, Meyer v. Nebraska  (Read 1376 times)
A18
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« on: February 28, 2006, 04:29:42 pm »
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Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923)

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 10 years, who had not attained 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:

      '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 than the English language.

      'Sec. 2. Languages, other 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. ... The judgment of the court belo must be reversed and the cause remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

REVERSED.

Mr. Justice Holmes and Mr. Justice Sutherland, dissent.
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2006, 04:44:35 pm »
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Unsound. Even if we assume that "liberty" includes the right to learn foreign languages, it does not follow that such a right cannot be violated by the state. The due process clause does not prohibit states from depriving individuals of liberty; it prohibits states from depriving individuals of liberty without due process of law. Clearly, Nebraska provided due process before banning the use of foreign languages in schools.
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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2006, 05:53:17 pm »

I can't imagine anything more fundamental to the concept of liberty than the ability to impart knowledge to a willing learner.  This case is about "freedom of speech" in its most literal sense.  In order for this to even be considred halfway unsound, one would have to limit due process to just procedural due process. However, including substantial due process as part of the concept of due process predates the 14th Amendment.
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2006, 06:05:46 pm »
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In order for this to even be considred halfway unsound, one would have to limit due process to just procedural due process. However, including substantial due process as part of the concept of due process predates the 14th Amendment.
It is true that the concept of substantive due process was used to strike down a law before the Fourteenth Amendment (in Dred Scott v. Sanford). But one wrong decision does not alter the true meaning of the due process clause.

The term "with due process of law" is synonymous with "by the law of the land." Since Nebraska schools were denied the right to teach foreign languages in accordance with the law of the land, the due process clause was not violated.
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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2006, 06:23:55 pm »
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"Liberty" is freedom from physical restraint.

Are you arguing that the Fifth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment due process provisions have different meanings? The plain purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause was to apply the Fifth Amendment concept to the states.

The best argument in favor of the Court's holding is that the law violated one or more of the "privileges [and] immunities" of citizens of the United States.
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