The Stone Court (1941–46)

First Amendment

Jehovah’s Witnesses Decisions by the Stone Court

Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942): The U.S. Supreme Court establishes the “fighting words” exception to the First Amendment in a case involving Walter Chaplinsky, a Jehovah’s Witness who allegedly cursed a New Hampshire city official.

Jones v. Opelika (1942): The U.S. Supreme Court upholds a city law that imposes a licensing fee on all those, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, who sell books or pamphlets.

West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943): The U.S. Supreme Court rules that public school officials cannot force Jehovah’s Witnesses and other students into saluting the flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Martin v. Struthers (1943): The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down an Ohio city law that prohibited Jehovah’s Witnesses and others from going door-to-door to convey their religious beliefs.

Jamison v. Texas (1943): The U.S. Supreme Court reverses the conviction of a Jehovah’s Witness woman charged with distributing handbills on a Dallas street.

Largent v. Texas (1943): The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously strikes down a Paris, Texas, law that gave the mayor unbridled discretion to determine whether or not to issue a permit for distributing materials. The mayor denied such permits to Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Taylor v. Mississippi (1943): The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the conviction of several Jehovah’s Witnesses for urging others to refuse to salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.


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