The Stone Court (1941–46)

First Amendment

What caused the Court to shift course in the licensing fees on Jehovah’s Witnesses?

In 1942, the Stone Court upheld a licensing fee as applied to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, while the next year the Court ruled 5–4 that such laws were unconstitutional. This change was caused by the replacement of Justice James Byrnes with Wiley Rutledge. Byrnes had voted in favor of the licensing laws, while Rutledge voted that they infringed on the religious liberty rights of the Witnesses.


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