Close to 200 peaceful protesters filed suit after they were arrested following a demonstration to end segregation at the South Carolina State House. The Supreme Court found that the protesters' First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, association, and petition were violated by the state.

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Appellant, Adell H. Sherbert, a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, was discharged by her South Carolina employer because she would not work on Saturday, the Sabbath Day of her faith. She was unable to obtain other employment because she would not work on Saturday, and she filed a claim for unemployment compensation benefits under the South Carolina Unemployment Compensation Act, which provides that a claimant is ineligible for benefits if he has failed, without good cause, to accept available suitable work when offered him. The State Commission denied Appellant's application on the ground that she would not accept suitable work when offered, and its action was sustained by the State Supreme Court.

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