Ohio Law

News and Announcements from the Supreme Court of Ohio and Other Governmental Entities Within the Buckeye State.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

A Blast From the Past

I know this may sound weird, but I've always enjoyed a good legislative history question. A few days ago, I received the following:

"I am trying to track down legislation that criminalized the usage of the German language after World War I. I have this information: 108 Ohio Laws 614."

As it turned out, this wasn't a difficult request, but I had never heard of this legislation before, so I thought I'd relay my findings.

108 Laws of Ohio 614 was the correct cite for the 1919 version of Amended Senate Bill 137. SB 137 amended General Code section 7762 by adding 7762-1 through 7762-4. The language within the statute made it a misdemeanor to teach school in a language other than English for classes below the 8th grade. German was the only language mentioned specifically. The fine was between $25-100 for each day that a violation was found. Of course, there were some teachers who still used German in the class, so fines were handed out and someone finally challenged the statute. The Supreme Court of Ohio upheld the statute in Pohl v. State, 102 Ohio St. 474, 132 N.E. 20, 19 Ohio Law Rep. 116 (1921) (No. 16492, 16493). However, the decision was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court along with one from Iowa in Bartels v. State of Iowa, 262 U.S. 404 (1923). The code sections were finally repealed as unconstitutional in 1927 by House Bill 70 (112 Laws of Ohio 127). Interesting stuff.


UPDATE: Here's the link for the Bartels case.


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