d'Etude de Réformes Féministes
Face aux obscurantismes (l'islamiste et les autres) : le Devoir de Liberté
DES ETATS UNIS D'AMERIQUE
1 Freedom of Religion, Speech, and Assembly
by Congress September 25, 1789. Ratified December 15, 1791.
shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or
the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government
for a redress of grievances. [^].
V. STATE OF CONNECTICUT,
Court Decisions on Religious Liberty
U.S. 296 (1940)
recording calls the Catholic Church an instrument of Satan."
1938. Newton Cantwell and his two sons are Jehovah's Witness ministers. They go
door to door, passing out pamphlets, selling books, asking for contributions,
and playing phonograph records. One recording calls the Catholic Church an
instrument of Satan. This doesn't play well in a Catholic section of New Haven.
The Cantwells are arrested for soliciting religious donations without a state
state claims this certification protects the public against fraud. But a
unanimous Supreme Court rules it also violates the First Amendment's "free
exercise of religion" clause. "The people of this nation have ordained,"
write Justice Roberts, "that, in spite of the probability of excesses and
abuses, these liberties are essential to enlightened opinion and right conduct
on the part of the citizens of a democracy."
v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296 (1940) (USSC+)
The fundamental concept of liberty embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment embraces
the liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment. P. 303 .
The enactment by a State of any law respecting an establishment of religion or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof is forbidden by the Fourteenth Amendment.
P. 303 .
Under the constitutional guaranty, freedom of conscience and of religious belief
is absolute; although freedom to act in the exercise of religion is subject to
regulation for the protection of society. Such regulation, however, in attaining
a permissible end, must not unduly infringe the protected freedom. Pp. 303-304 .
A state statute which forbids any person to solicit money or valuables for any
alleged religious cause, unless a certificate therefor shall first have been
procured from a designated official, who is required to determine whether such
cause is a religious one and who may withhold his approval if he determines that
it is not, is a previous restraint upon the free exercise of religion, and a
deprivation of liberty without due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth
Amendment. P. 304 .
held as it was applied to persons engaged in distributing literature purporting
to be religious, and soliciting contributions to be used for the publication of
State constitutionally may, by general and nondiscriminatory legislation,
regulate the time, place and manner of soliciting upon its streets, and of
holding meetings thereon, and may in other respects safeguard the peace, good
order and comfort of the community. [p*297] The statute here, however, is not
such a regulation. If a certificate is issued, solicitation is permitted without
other restriction; but if a certificate is denied, solicitation is altogether
The fact that arbitrary or capricious action by the licensing officer is subject
to judicial review cannot validate the statute. A previous restraint by judicial
decision after trial is as obnoxious under the Constitution as restraint by
administrative action. P. 306 .
The common law offense of breach of the peace may be committed not only by acts
of violence, but also by acts and words likely to produce violence in others. P.
Defendant, while on a public street endeavoring to interest passerby in the
purchase of publications, or in making contributions, in the interest of what he
believed to be true religion, induced individuals to listen to the playing of a
phonograph record describing the publications. The record contained a verbal
attack upon the religious denomination of which the listeners were members,
provoking their indignation and a desire on their part to strike the defendant,
who thereupon picked up his books and phonograph and went on his way. There was
no showing that defendant's deportment was noisy, truculent, overbearing, or
offensive; nor was it claimed that he intended to insult or affront the
listeners by playing the record; nor was it shown that the sound of the
phonograph disturbed persons living nearby, drew a crowd, or impeded traffic.
that defendant's conviction of the common law offense of breach of the peace was
violative of constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and freedom of
speech. Pp. 307 et seq.
Justice ROBERTS, delivered the opinion of the Court.
the realm of religious faith, and in that of political belief, sharp differences
arise. In both fields the tenets of one man may seem the rankest error to his
neighbor. To persuade others to his own point of view, the pleader, as we know,
at times, resorts to exaggeration, to vilification of men who have been, or are,
prominent in church or state, and even to false statement. But the people of
this nation have ordained in the light of history, that, in spite of the
probability of excesses and abuses, these liberties are, in the long view,
essential to enlightened opinion and right conduct on the part of the citizens
of a democracy.
essential characteristic of these liberties is, that under their shield many
types of life, character, opinion and belief can develop unmolested and
unobstructed. Nowhere is this shield more necessary than in our own country for
a people composed of many races and of many creeds. There are limits to the
exercise of these liberties. The danger in these times from the coercive
activities of those who in the delusion of racial or religious conceit would
incite violence and breaches of the peace in order to deprive others of their
equal right to the exercise of their liberties, is emphasized by events familiar
to all. These and other transgressions of those limits the states appropriately
the contents of the record not unnaturally aroused animosity, we think that, in
the absence of a statute narrowly drawn to define and punish specific conduct as
constituting a clear and present danger to a substantial interest of the State,
the petitioner's communication, considered in the light of the constitutional
guarantees, raised no such clear and present menace to public peace and order as
to render him liable to conviction of the common law offense in question.