1922 November 7

Oregon Passes KKK-Sponsored Anti-Catholic Education Law


In a Ku Klux Klan-sponsored initiative, Oregon voters approved he Compulsory Education Act, which would habr required children between the ages of 8 and 16 to attend public schools. The law was motivated by KKK anti-Catholic bias and would have effectively closed down parochial schools in the state.

In the 1920s the Klan was a major force in many states outside of the South, and was particularly active with regard to anti-Catholic bias. In a brazen display of its power, 25,000 Klan members conducted a march on Washington on August 8, 1925.

The Supreme Court overturned the Oregon law as violating parents’ right to control the education of their children, on June 1, 1925, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters. The decision, along with Meyer v. Nebraska on June 4, 1923, created a quasi-right to privacy, involving the right of parents to control their children’s education but in the years ahead they did not lead to further decisions that might have developed that right further.

The long-term effect of both the Meyer and Pierce decisions was to set in motion what would become a major transformation of America: the penetration of constitutional principles into every phase of American life and an enormously expanded protection of individual rights.

Learn more about the history of the KKK: David Chalmers, Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan (1981, 1987).

Read about stopping the Klan: Bill Stanton, Klanwatch: Bringing the Ku Klux Klan to Justice (1991)

Learn more about the Klan today: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/ideology/ku-klux-klan

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