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Cross Purposes: Pierce v. Society of Sisters and the Struggle over Compulsory Public Education Hardcover – November 6, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

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"A definitive study of an extremely important, though curiously neglected, Supreme Court decision, Pierce v. Society of Sisters." - Robert O'Neil, University of Virginia School of Law "A well-written, well-researched blend of law, politics, and history." - Joan DelFattore, University of Delaware"

About the Author

Paula Abrams is Professor of Constitutional Law at Lewis & Clark Law School.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press (November 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472117009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472117000
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,996,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This book is an eye-opener. The Pierce decision itself, at 1,700 words, about the length of a typical op-ed article, is silent as to the forces behind Oregon banning religious and private school education in the early 1920s. This book is the explanation. The Ku Klax Klan had revived, and was stirring up anti-Catholic sentiment. Before and after World War I, there was increased immigration from southern and eastern Europe, and Ireland, most being Catholics and Jews. The Klan wanted a uniform white Protestant America. They were particularly successful in Oregon, promoting a ballot initiative making public school education mandatory for all school-age children. The initiative passed, with about 53 per cent of the vote. Now under real threat of closure, one Catholic school, and one private military school, sued the State of Oregon, arguing that the law breached the constitutional guarantee of liberty, granted by the 14th Amendment. Other religious groups filed amicus briefs in the US Supreme Court, supporting the invalidation of the Oregon law. The Sup Ct agree in a unanimous 9-0 decision. The book also has a good discussion at the end about the consequences of Pierce in such diverse areas as abortion, marriage, and privacy rights.
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