• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court established the concept that the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of religion, press, and speech occupied a preferred position in U.S. constitutional law.

Justice William O. DouglasDouglas, William O;Murdock v. Pennsylvania[Murdock v. Pennsylvania] wrote the opinion for the 5-4 majority, striking down a city ordinance that required the Jehovah’s WitnessesJehovah’s Witnesses, a religious group, to pay a license tax to go door to door distributing literature and soliciting funds. Murdoch v. Pennsylvania was one of a series of cases commonly known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses cases in which the Supreme Court struck down a wide range of limits on the group’s activities as prior restraints on its freedom of religion, speech, and press. Justices Felix Frankfurter, Stanley F. Reed, Robert H. Jackson, and Owen J. Roberts dissented, maintaining that municipalities had the right to levy reasonable, nondiscriminatory taxes on the sale of religious literature.Preferred freedoms doctrine;Murdock v. Pennsylvania[Murdock v. Pennsylvania]

First Amendment

Hague v. Congress of Industrial Organizations

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Prior restraint

Religion, freedom of

Speech and press, freedom of

Time, place, and manner regulations

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette

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