Case Overview

Legal Principle at Issue

Did the solicitation statute or the "breach of the peace" ordinance violate the Cantwells' First & Fourteenth Amendment free speech and/or free exercise rights?


Reversed and remanded. Petitioning party received a favorable disposition.


Newton Cantwell and his two sons, Jesse and Russell — who identified as Jehovah's Witnesses and claimed to be ordained ministers — were arrested in New Haven, Connecticut after distributing religious literature for inciting a breach of the peace and violating a local ordinance requiring solicitors to obtain a permit.

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