The Taft Court (1921–30)

Due Process Rights of Parents

In what decision did the Taft Court prohibit states from outlawing the teaching of foreign languages?

The Taft Court ruled 7–2 in Meyer v. Nebraska (1923) that the state of Nebraska could not outlaw the teaching of foreign languages. The state had passed a law prohibiting any school—public or private—from teaching any language other than English to students who had not yet finished the eighth grade. Robert Meyer, a teacher at Zion Parochial School, was charged with violating the law for teaching German to student Raymond Panpart. Justice James McReynolds wrote that this law violated the Due Process Clause, noting that “mere knowledge of the German language cannot reasonably be regarded as harmful.” Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes and George Sutherland dissented without writing an opinion.


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