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First Amendment Library:
Joseph F. Rutherford


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.Upon appeal, there was a trial de novo of these appellants before a jury in the Superior Court, the other defendants having agreed to abide by the final decision in that proceeding. Appellants were found guilty and the judgment of conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the State. State v. Cox, 91 N.H. 137; 16 A.2d 508.



Lillian Gobitis, aged twelve, and her brother William, aged ten, were expelled from the public schools of Minersville, Pennsylvania, for refusing to salute the national flag as part of a daily school exercise. The local Board of Education required both teachers and pupils to participate in this ceremony. The Gobitis family are affiliated with "Jehovah's Witnesses," for whom the Bible as the Word of God is the supreme authority. The children had been brought up conscientiously to believe that such a gesture of respect for the flag was forbidden by command of Scripture. The Gobitis children were of an age for which Pennsylvania makes school attendance compulsory. Thus, they were denied a free education, and their parents had to put them into private schools. To be relieved of the financial burden thereby entailed, their father, on behalf of the children and in his own behalf, brought this suit.