|Schneider v. State of New Jersey|
|Argued October 13,16, 1939|
Decided November 22, 1939
|Full case name||Schneider v. State of New Jersey (Town of Irvington)|
|Citations||308 U.S. 147 ( more )|
|Prior history||Certiorari to the New Jersey Court of Errors and Appeals|
|The Court held that the purpose of the ordinances (to keep the streets clean and of good appearance) was insufficient to justify prohibiting defendants from handing out literature to other persons willing to receive it.|
|Majority||Roberts, joined by Hughes, Butler, Stone, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas|
|U.S. Const. amend I, U.S. Const. amend. XIV|
Schneider v. State of New Jersey, 308 U.S. 147 (1939), was a United States Supreme Court decision that combined four similar appeals (Schneider v. State of New Jersey (Town of Irvington), Young v. People of the State of California, Snyder v. City of Milwaukee, Nichols et al. v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts), each of which presented the question whether regulations embodied in municipal ordinances abridged the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and of the press secured against state invasion by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. Established pursuant to Article III of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, it has original jurisdiction over a small range of cases, such as suits between two or more states, and those involving ambassadors. It also has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all federal court and state court cases that involve a point of federal constitutional or statutory law. The Court has the power of judicial review, the ability to invalidate a statute for violating a provision of the Constitution or an executive act for being unlawful. However, it may act only within the context of a case in an area of law over which it has jurisdiction. The Court may decide cases having political overtones, but it has ruled that it does not have power to decide nonjusticiable political questions. Each year it agrees to hear about 100–150 of the more than 7,000 cases that it is asked to review.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents the government from making laws which respect an establishment of religion, prohibit the free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.
Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. The term "freedom of expression" is sometimes used synonymously but includes any act of seeking, receiving, and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.
The appellants (Jehovah's Witnesses) were charged with a violation of a local ordinance that barred persons from distributing handbills on public streets or handing them out door-to-door.
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The group reports a worldwide membership of approximately 8.58 million adherents involved in evangelism and an annual Memorial attendance of over 20 million. Jehovah's Witnesses are directed by the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, a group of elders in Warwick, New York, which establishes all doctrines based on its interpretations of the Bible. They believe that the destruction of the present world system at Armageddon is imminent, and that the establishment of God's kingdom over the earth is the only solution for all problems faced by humanity.
In 1939, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the purpose of the ordinances to keep the streets clean and of good appearance was insufficient to justify prohibiting defendants from handing out literature to other persons willing to receive it. Any burden imposed upon the city authorities in cleaning and caring for the streets as an indirect consequence of such distribution resulted from the constitutional protection of the freedom of speech and press. Concerning the distribution of materials from house to house without a permit, the ordinance was void.
This right is not absolute, however. Municipalities may lawfully regulate the conduct of those using the streets, for the purpose of keeping them open and available for movement of people and property, so long as legislation to this end does not abridge the constitutional liberty of one rightfully upon the street to impart information through speech or the distribution of literature.
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Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000), was a case of the Supreme Court of the United States, decided on June 28, 2000, that held that the constitutional right to freedom of association allowed the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to exclude a homosexual person from membership in spite of a state law requiring equal treatment of homosexuals in public accommodations. More generally, the court ruled that a private organization such as the BSA may exclude a person from membership when "the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group's ability to advocate public or private viewpoints". In a five to four decision, the Supreme Court ruled that opposition to homosexuality is part of BSA's "expressive message" and that allowing homosexuals as adult leaders would interfere with that message.
R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377 (1992), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Supreme Court unanimously struck down St. Paul's Bias-Motivated Crime Ordinance and reversed the conviction of a teenager, referred to in court documents only as R.A.V., for burning a cross on the lawn of an African-American family for violating the First Amendment's protections for freedom of speech.
Civil liberties in the United States are certain unalienable rights retained by citizens of the United States under the Constitution of the United States, as interpreted and clarified by the Supreme Court of the United States and lower federal courts. Civil liberties are simply defined as individual legal and constitutional protections from entities more powerful than an individual, for example, parts of the government, other individuals, or corporations. The liberties explicitly defined, make up the Bill of Rights, including freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and the right to privacy. There are also many liberties of people not defined in the Constitution, as stated in the Ninth Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765 (1978), is a U.S. constitutional law case which defined the free speech right of corporations for the first time. The United States Supreme Court held that corporations have a First Amendment right to make contributions to ballot initiative campaigns. The ruling came in response to a Massachusetts law that prohibited corporate donations in ballot initiatives unless the corporation's interests were directly involved.
Hague v. Committee for Industrial Organization, 307 U.S. 496 (1939), is a US labor law case decided by the United States Supreme Court.
McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420 (1961), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the court held that laws with religious origins are not unconstitutional if they have a secular purpose.
Lovell v. City of Griffin, 303 U.S. 444 (1938), is a United States Supreme Court case. This case was remarkable in its discussion of the requirement of persons to seek government sanction to distribute religious material. In this particular case, the Supreme Court ruled it was not constitutional for a city to require such sanction.
Martin v. Struthers, 319 U.S. 141 (1943), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that a law prohibiting the distribution of handbills from door to door violated the First Amendment rights of a Jehovah's Witness, specifically their freedom of speech. The ruling was 5-4 and deemed trespassing laws a better fit for the town imposing the ordinance.
National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43 (1977), arising out of what is sometimes referred to as the Skokie Affair, is a United States Supreme Court case dealing with freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. This case is considered a "'classic' free speech case" in Constitutional law classes. Related court decisions are captioned Skokie v. NSPA, Collin v. Smith, and Smith v. Collin. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4, per curiam. The Supreme Court's 1977 ruling granted certiorari and reversed and remanded the Illinois Supreme Court's denial to lift the lower court's injunction on the NSPA's march. In other words, the Court's decided that a person's assertion that their speech is being restrained must be reviewed immediately. By requiring the state court to consider the neo-Nazis' appeal without delay, the U.S. Supreme Court decision opened the door to allowing the National Socialist Party of America to march.
Terminiello v. City of Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that a "breach of peace" ordinance of the City of Chicago that banned speech which "stirs the public to anger, invites dispute, brings about a condition of unrest, or creates a disturbance" was unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105 (1943), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that an ordinance requiring door-to-door salespersons ("solicitors") to purchase a license was an unconstitutional tax on religious exercise.
Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York, Inc. v. Village of Stratton, 536 U.S. 150 (2002), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that a town ordinance's provisions making it a misdemeanor to engage in door-to-door advocacy without first registering with town officials and receiving a permit violates the First Amendment as it applies to religious proselytizing, anonymous political speech, and the distribution of handbills.
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Coates v. Cincinnati, 402 U.S. 611 (1971), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that a local city ordinance that made it a criminal offense for three or more persons to assemble on a sidewalk and “annoy” any passersby was unconstitutionally vague.
McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, 514 U.S. 334 (1995), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that an Ohio statute that prohibits anonymous political or campaign literature is unconstitutional. Writing for the Court, Justice Stevens asserted that such action is protected by the First Amendment, and therefore violated the constitutional principle of freedom of speech. Justice Scalia dissented, in an opinion which Chief Justice Rehnquist joined. Justice Ginsburg wrote a concurrence, while Justice Thomas wrote an opinion concurring in the judgment.
Smith v. California, 361 U.S. 147 (1959), was a U.S. Supreme Court case upholding the freedom of the press. The decision deemed unconstitutional a city ordinance that made one in possession of obscene books criminally liable because it did not require proof that one had knowledge of the book’s content, and thus violated the freedom of the press guaranteed in the First Amendment. Smith v. California continued the Supreme Court precedent of ruling that questions of freedom of expression were protected by the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by state action. It also established that in order for one to be criminally liable for possession of obscene material, there must be proof of one’s knowledge of the material.
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