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Meyer v. State of Nebraska
Citation:262 U.S. 390 (1923)
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Meyer was a school teacher who taught reading in German to a student upon request by their parent, in violation of a Nebraska law that prohibited teachers from teaching in any language other than English (and completely prohibited foreign language classes before eighth grade). Prohibited languages included German, French, Spanish and Italian, but “dead” languages of Latin, Greek and Hebrew were not prohibited. Nebraska justified the law as a use of its state police power to “promote civic development” by discouraging development of second languages until English was mastered.
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