The Supreme Court broadly interpreted the religious exercise clause of the First Amendment and held that the clause was applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.

Newton Cantwell, an active member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses,Jehovah’s Witnesses went door to door trying to make converts. A few people complained about his diatribes against the Catholic Church. Cantwell was arrested and convicted for violating a state law that required a license for soliciting funds.Incorporation doctrineReligion, freedom of;Cantwell v. Connecticut[Cantwell v. Connecticut]Incorporation doctrine

By a 9-0 vote, the Supreme Court reversed the conviction and invalidated the law. Justice Owen J. Roberts’s Roberts, Owen J.;Cantwell v. Connecticut[Cantwell v. Connecticut] opinion for the Court emphasized that the Constitution protected religious conduct such as proselytizing. He wrote that a state may reasonably regulate the time, place, and mannerTime, place, and manner regulations of activities to prevent fraud or disorder, but it cannot entirely forbid unpopular conduct. The Connecticut law constituted a form of religious censorship because it gave public officials excessive discretion for approving or rejecting applications for licenses.[case]Cantwell v. Connecticut[Cantwell v. Connecticut]

Incorporation doctrine

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Religion, freedom of

Time, place, and manner regulations