The Hughes Court (1930–41)

First Amendment

In what other Jehovah’s Witness case did the Hughes Court uphold a state statute requiring a license for parades or marches?

In Cox v. New Hampshire (1941), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the convictions of five Jehovah’s Witnesses who violated a New Hampshire law that required marchers to apply for a permit. More than sixty individuals marched down the city streets with signs reading: “Religion is a Snare and a Racket” without applying for a permit. The individuals challenged the statute on First Amendment grounds, saying it interfered with their free-assembly and free-exercise of religion rights.

The Hughes Court unanimously disagreed, ruling that the state law was constitutional. The Court reasoned that the law on its face merely regulated the time, place, and manner of parades and marches, as opposed to a regulation that discriminated against certain groups based on content. The Court noted that there was “no evidence” that the law had been applied in a discriminatory fashion.


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