Newton Cantwell and his two sons, Jesse and Russell, members of a group known as Jehovah's witnesses, and claiming to be ordained ministers, were arrested in New Haven, Connecticut, and each was charged by information in five counts, with statutory and common law offenses. After trial each of them was convicted of the common law offense of inciting a breach of the peace. On appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court the conviction of Jesse Cantwell was affirmed, but the conviction of Newton and Russell on that count was reversed and a new trial ordered as to them.

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Appellant, a member of the sect known as Jehovah's Witnesses, was convicted in the municipal court of Rochester, New Hampshire, for violation of Chapter 378, § 2, of the Public Laws of New Hampshire:"No person shall address any offensive, derisive or annoying word to any other person who is lawfully in any street or other public place, nor call him by any offensive or derisive name, nor make any noise or exclamation in his presence and hearing with intent to deride, offend or annoy him, or to prevent him from pursuing his lawful business or occupation."The complaint charged that appellant, "with force and arms, in a certain public place in said city of Rochester, to wit, on the public sidewalk on the easterly side of Wakefield Street, near unto the entrance of the City Hall, did unlawfully repeat, the words following, addressed to the complainant, that is to say, `You are a God damned racketeer' and `a damned Fascist and the whole government of Rochester are Fascists or agents of Fascists,' the same being offensive, derisive and annoying words and names."Upon appeal there was a trial de novo of appellant before a jury in the Superior Court. He was found guilty and the judgment of conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the State. 91 N.H. 310, 18 A.2d 754.

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Appellants are five "Jehovah's Witnesses" who, with sixty-three others of the same persuasion, were convicted in the municipal court of Manchester, New Hampshire, for violation of a state statute prohibiting a "parade or *571 procession" upon a public street without a special license.

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Petitioners brought this suit in the United States District Court for Western Pennsylvania to restrain threatened criminal prosecution of them in the state courts by respondents, the City of Jeannette (a Pennsylvania municipal corporation) and its Mayor, for violation of a city ordinance which prohibits the solicitation of orders for merchandise without first procuring a license from the city authorities and paying a license tax. The ordinance as applied is held to be an unconstitutional abridgment of free speech, press and religion in Murdock v. Pennsylvania, ante, p. 105. The questions decisive of the present case are whether the district court has statutory jurisdiction as a federal court to entertain the suit, and whether petitioners have by their pleadings and proof established a cause of action in equity.

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Appellant was convicted of violating an ordinance of the town of McCormick, South Carolina which provided: ". . . the following license on business, occupation and professions to be paid by the person or persons carrying on or engaged in such business, occupation or professions within the corporate limits of the Town of McCormick, South Carolina: Agents selling books, per day $1.00, per year $15.00." Appellant is a Jehovah's Witness and has been certified by the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society as "an ordained minister of Jehovah God to preach the gospel of God's kingdom under Christ Jesus." He is a resident of McCormick, South Carolina, where he went from house to house distributing certain books. He obtained his living from the money received; he had no other source of income. He claimed that he merely offered the books for a "contribution." But there was evidence that he "offered to and did sell the books." Admittedly he had no license from the town and refused to obtain one. He moved for a directed verdict of not guilty at the close of the evidence, claiming that the ordinance restricted freedom of worship in violation of the First Amendment which the Fourteenth Amendment makes applicable to the States. The motion was overruled and appellant was found guilty by the jury in the Mayor's Court. That judgment was affirmed by the Circuit Court of General Sessions for McCormick County and then by the Supreme Court of South Carolina. The case is here on appeal. Judicial Code, § 237 (a), 28 U.S.C. § 344 (a).

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The City of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, has an ordinance which reads as follows:

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The appellant, a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses, was charged with distributing handbills on the streets of Dallas, Texas, in violation of an ordinance of that city which prohibits their distribution. She was convicted in the Corporation Court of Dallas, and appealed to the *414 County Criminal Court where, after a trial de novo, she was again convicted and a fine of $5.00 and costs was imposed. Under Texas law she could appeal to no higher state court,[1] and since she properly raised federal questions of substance in both courts, the case is rightfully here on appeal under § 237 (a) of the Judicial Code. King Manufacturing Co. v. Augusta, 277 U.S. 100. The appellee has asked us to reconsider the doctrine of the King Manufacturing Co. case under which this Court takes jurisdiction on appeal from judgments sustaining the validity of municipal ordinances. We see no reason for reconsidering the King Manufacturing Co. case and follow it here.

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Overruled

By writ of certiorari in Nos. 280 and 314 and by appeal in No. 966 we have before us the question of the constitutionality *586 of various city ordinances imposing the license taxes upon the sale of printed matter for nonpayment of which the appellant, Jobin, and the petitioners, Jones, Bowden and Sanders, all members of the organization known as Jehovah's Witnesses, were convicted.

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This appeal brings here for review the conviction of appellant for violation of Ordinance No. 612 of the City of Paris, Texas, which makes it unlawful for any person to solicit orders or to sell books, wares or merchandise within the residence portion of Paris without first filing an application and obtaining a permit. The ordinance goes on to provide that *419 "if after investigation the Mayor deems it proper or advisable he may issue a written permit to said person for the purpose of soliciting, selling, canvassing or census taking within the residence portion of the city which permit shall state on its face that it has been issued after a thorough investigation."[1]

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In this case we are asked to decide whether a State, consistently with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, can impose criminal punishment on a person who undertakes to distribute religious literature on the premises of a company-owned town contrary to the wishes of the town's management. The town, a suburb of Mobile, Alabama, known as Chickasaw, is owned by the Gulf Shipbuilding Corporation. Except for that it has all the characteristics of any other American town. The property consists of residential buildings, streets, a system of sewers, a sewage disposal plant and a "business block" on which business places are situated. A deputy of the Mobile County Sheriff, paid by the company, serves as the town's policeman. Merchants and service establishments have rented the stores and business places on the business block and *503 the United States uses one of the places as a post office from which six carriers deliver mail to the people of Chickasaw and the adjacent area. The town and the surrounding neighborhood, which can not be distinguished from the Gulf property by anyone not familiar with the property lines, are thickly settled, and according to all indications the residents use the business block as their regular shopping center. To do so, they now, as they have for many years, make use of a company-owned paved street and sidewalk located alongside the store fronts in order to enter and leave the stores and the post office. Intersecting company-owned roads at each end of the business block lead into a four-lane public highway which runs parallel to the business block at a distance of thirty feet. There is nothing to stop highway traffic from coming onto the business block and upon arrival a traveler may make free use of the facilities available there. In short the town and its shopping district are accessible to and freely used by the public in general and there is nothing to distinguish them from any other town and shopping center except the fact that the title to the property belongs to a private corporation.

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For centuries it has been a common practice in this and other countries for persons not specifically invited to go from home to home and knock on doors or ring doorbells to communicate ideas to the occupants or to invite them to political, religious, or other kinds of public meetings. Whether such visiting shall be permitted has in general been deemed to depend upon the will of the individual master of each household, and not upon the determination of the community. In the instant case, the City of Struthers, Ohio, has attempted to make this decision for all its inhabitants. The question to be decided is whether the City, consistently with the federal Constitution's *142 guarantee of free speech and press, possesses this power.[1]The appellant, espousing a religious cause in which she was interested — that of the Jehovah's Witnesses — went to the homes of strangers, knocking on doors and ringing doorbells in order to distribute to the inmates of the homes leaflets advertising a religious meeting. In doing so, she proceeded in a conventional and orderly fashion. For delivering a leaflet to the inmate of a home, she was convicted in the Mayor's Court and was fined $10.00 on a charge of violating the following City ordinance:"It is unlawful for any person distributing handbills, circulars or other advertisements to ring the door bell, sound the door knocker, or otherwise summon the inmate or inmates of any residence to the door for the purpose of receiving such handbills, circulars or other advertisements they or any person with them may be distributing."The appellant admitted knocking at the door for the purpose of delivering the invitation, but seasonably urged in the lower Ohio state court that the ordinance as construed and applied was beyond the power of the State because in violation of the right of freedom of press and religion as guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.[2]*143 The right of freedom of speech and press has broad scope. The authors of the First Amendment knew that novel and unconventional ideas might disturb the complacent, but they chose to encourage a freedom which they believed essential if vigorous enlightenment was ever to triumph over slothful ignorance.[3] This freedom embraces the right to distribute literature, Lovell v. Griffin, 303 U.S. 444, 452, and necessarily protects the right to receive it. The privilege may not be withdrawn even if it creates the minor nuisance for a community of cleaning litter from its streets. Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 147, 162. Yet the peace, good order, and comfort of the community may imperatively require regulation of the time, place and manner of distribution. Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 304. No one supposes, for example, that a city need permit a man with a communicable disease to distribute leaflets on the street or to homes, or that the First Amendment prohibits a state from preventing the distribution of leaflets in a church against the will of the church authorities.

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The City of Jeannette, Pennsylvania, has an ordinance, some forty years old, which provides in part:

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Appellants are two members of the religious group known as Jehovah's Witnesses. At the invitation of local coreligionists, they scheduled Bible talks in the public park of the city of Havre de Grace, Maryland. Although there is no ordinance prohibiting or regulating the use of this park, it has been the custom for organizations and individuals desiring to use it for meetings and celebrations of various kinds to obtain permits from the Park Commissioner. In conformity with this practice, the group requested permission of the Park Commissioner for use of the park on four consecutive Sundays in June and July, 1949. This permission was refused.

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This appeal presents the validity of a conviction of appellant for conducting religious services in a public park of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, without a required license, when proper application for the license had been arbitrarily and unreasonably refused by the City Council. The conclusion depends upon consideration of the principles *397 of the First Amendment secured against state abridgment by the Fourteenth.[1]

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The case brings for review another episode in the conflict between Jehovah's Witnesses and state authority. This time Sarah Prince appeals from convictions for violating Massachusetts' child labor laws, by acts said to be a rightful exercise of her religious convictions.

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334 U.S. 558 (1948) SAIA v. NEW YORK. No. 504. Supreme Court of United States. Argued March 30, 1948. Decided June 7, 1948. APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS OF NEW YORK. Hayden C. Covington argued the cause and filed a brief for appellant. Alan V. Parker submitted on brief for appellee. Opinion of the Court by MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, announced by MR. JUSTICE BLACK. This case presents the question of the validity under the Fourteenth Amendment of a penal ordinance of the City of Lockport, New York, which forbids the use of sound amplification devices except with permission of […]

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March 20, 1942, the State of Mississippi enacted a statute[1] the title of which declares that it is intended to *584 secure the peace and safety of the United States and of the State of Mississippi during war and to prohibit acts detrimental to public peace and safety. The first section, with which alone we are here concerned, provides:"That any person who individually, or as a member of any organization, association, or otherwise, shall intentionally preach, teach, or disseminate any teachings, creed, theory, or set of alleged principles, orally, or by means of a phonograph or other contrivance of any kind or nature, or by any other means or method, or by the distribution of any sort of literature, or written or printed matter, designed and calculated to encourage violence, sabotage, or disloyalty to the government of the United States, or the state of Mississippi, or who by action or speech, advocates the cause of the enemies of the United States or who gives information as to the military operations, or plans of defense or military secrets of the nation or this state, by speech, letter, map or picture which would incite any sort of racial distrust, disorder, prejudices or hatreds, or which reasonably tends to create an attitude of stubborn refusal to salute, honor or respect the flag or government of the United States, or of the state of Mississippi, shall be guilty of a felony and punished by imprisonment in the state penitentiary until treaty of peace be declared by the United States but such imprisonment shall not exceed ten years."At the June 1942 term of the Madison County Circuit Court, Taylor, the appellant in No. 826, was indicted for orally disseminating teachings designed and calculated to encourage disloyalty to the government of the United States and that of the State of Mississippi; and for orally disseminating teachings and distributing literature and printed matter reasonably tending to create an attitude of stubborn refusal to salute, honor, and respect the flag and government of the United States and of the State of *585 Mississippi, and designed and calculated to encourage disloyalty to the government of the United States.

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The West Virginia State Board of Education on January 9, 1942, adopted a resolution citing from the Court's prior opinion in Gobitis and ordering that the salute to the flag become "a regular part of the program of activities in the public schools," that all teachers and pupils "shall be required to participate in the salute honoring the Nation represented by the Flag; provided, however, that refusal to salute the Flag be regarded as an act of insubordination, and shall be dealt with accordingly." Failure to conform was "insubordination," dealt with by expulsion. Readmission was denied by statute until compliance. Meanwhile, the expelled child was "unlawfully absent," and could be proceeded against as a delinquent. His parents or guardians were liable to prosecution, and, if convicted, were subject to fine not exceeding $50 and jail term not exceeding thirty days. Appellees, Jehovah's Witnesses, brought suit in the United States District Court for themselves and others similarly situated asking its injunction to restrain enforcement of these laws and regulations against them. Jehovah's Witnesses consider that the flag is an "image" within the meaning of the Biblical Second Commandment, and for that reason, they refuse to salute it.

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