322 U.S. 78 (1944), 472, United States v. Ballard

Docket NºNo. 472
Citation322 U.S. 78, 64 S.Ct. 882, 88 L.Ed. 1148
Party NameUnited States v. Ballard
Case DateApril 24, 1944
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 78

322 U.S. 78 (1944)

64 S.Ct. 882, 88 L.Ed. 1148

United States

v.

Ballard

No. 472

United States Supreme Court

April 24, 1944

Argued March 3, 6, 1944

CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Upon an indictment charging use of the mails to defraud, and conspiracy so to do, respondents were convicted in the District Court. The indictment charged a scheme to defraud through representations -- involving respondents' religious doctrines or beliefs -- which were alleged to be false and known by the respondents to be false. Holding that the District Court had restricted the jury to the issue of respondents' good faith and that this was error, the Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and granted a new trial.

Held:

1. The only issue submitted to the jury by the District Court was whether respondents believed the representations to be true. P. 84.

2. Respondents did not acquiesce in the withdrawal from the jury of the issue of the truth of their religious doctrines or beliefs, and are not barred by the rule of Johnson v. United States, 318 U.S. 189, from reasserting here that no part of the indictment should have been submitted to the jury. P. 85.

3. The District Court properly withheld from the jury all questions concerning the truth or falsity of respondents' religious beliefs or doctrines. This course was required by the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. P. 86.

The preferred position given freedom of religion by the First Amendment is not limited to any particular religious group or to any particular type of religion but applies to all. P. 87.

4. Respondents may urge in support of the judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals points which that court reserved, but, since these were not fully presented here either in the briefs or oral argument, they may more appropriately be considered by that court upon remand. P. 88.

138 F.2d 540 reversed.

Certiorari, 320 U.S. 733, to review the reversal of convictions for using the mails to defraud and conspiracy.

Page 79

DOUGLAS, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondents were indicted and convicted for using, and conspiring to use, the mails to defraud. § 215 Criminal Code, 18 U.S.C. § 338; § 37 Criminal Code, 18 U.S.C. § 88. The indictment was in twelve counts. It charged a scheme to defraud by organizing and promoting the I Am movement through the use of the mails. The charge was that certain designated corporations were formed, literature distributed and sold, funds solicited, and memberships in the I Am movement sought "by means of false and fraudulent representations, pretenses and promises." The false representations charged were eighteen in number. It is sufficient at this point to say that they covered respondents' alleged religious doctrines or beliefs. They were all set forth in the first count. The following are representative:

that Guy W. Ballard, now deceased, alias Saint Germain, Jesus, George Washington, and Godfre Ray King, had been selected and thereby designated by the alleged "ascertained masters," Saint Germain, as a divine messenger, and that the words of "ascended masters" and the words of the alleged divine entity, Saint Germain, would be transmitted to mankind through the medium of the said Guy W. Ballard;

that Guy W. Ballard, during his lifetime, and Edna W. Ballard, and Donald Ballard, by reason of their alleged high spiritual attainments and righteous conduct, had been selected as divine messengers through which the words of the alleged "ascended masters," including

Page 80

the alleged Saint Germain, would be communicated to mankind under the teachings commonly known as the "I Am" movement;

that Guy W. Ballard, during his lifetime, and Edna W. Ballard and Donald Ballard had, by reason of supernatural attainments, the power to heal persons of ailments and diseases and to make well persons afflicted with any diseases, injuries, or ailments, and did falsely represent to persons intended to be defrauded that the three designated persons had the ability and power to cure persons of those diseases normally classified as curable and also of diseases which are ordinarily classified by the medical profession as being incurable diseases, and did further represent that the three designated persons had in fact cured either by the activity of one, either, or all of said persons, hundreds of persons afflicted with diseases and ailments;

Each of the representations enumerated in the indictment was followed by the charge that respondents "well knew" it was false. After enumerating the eighteen misrepresentations the indictment also alleged:

At the time of making all of the afore-alleged representations by the defendants, and each of them, the defendants, and each of them, well knew that all of said aforementioned representations were false and untrue and were made with the intention on the part of the defendants, and each of them, to cheat, wrong, and defraud persons intended to be defrauded, and to obtain from persons intended to be defrauded by the defendants, money, property, and other things of value and to convert the same to the use and the benefit of the defendants, and each of them;

The indictment contained twelve counts, one of which charged a conspiracy to defraud. The first count set forth all of the eighteen representations, as we have said. Each of the other counts incorporated and realleged all of them and added no additional ones. There was a demurrer and a motion to quash each of which asserted, among other things, that the indictment attacked the religious beliefs

Page 81

of respondents and sought to restrict the free exercise of their religion in violation of the Constitution of the United States. These motions were denied by the District [64 S.Ct. 884] Court. Early in the trial, however, objections were raised to the admission of certain evidence concerning respondents' religious beliefs. The court conferred with counsel in absence of the jury and, with the acquiescence of counsel for the United States and for respondents, confined the issues on this phase of the case to the question of the good faith of respondents. At the request of counsel for both sides, the court advised the jury of that action in the following language:

Now, gentlemen, here is the issue in this case:

First, the defendants in this case made certain representations of belief in a divinity and in a supernatural power. Some of the teachings of the defendants, representations, might seem extremely improbable to a great many people. For instance, the appearance of Jesus to dictate some of the works that we have had introduced in evidence, as testified to here at the opening transcription, or shaking hands with Jesus, to some people that might seem highly improbable. I point that out as one of the many statements.

Whether that is true or not is not the concern of this Court and is not the concern of the jury -- and they are going to be told so in their instructions. As far as this Court sees the issue, it is immaterial what these defendants preached or wrote or taught in their classes. They are not going to be permitted to speculate on the actuality of the happening of those incidents. Now, I think I have made that as clear as I can. Therefore, the religious beliefs of these defendants cannot be an issue in this court.

The issue is: did these defendants honestly and in good faith believe those things? If they did, they should be acquitted. I cannot make it any clearer than that.

If these defendants did not believe those things, they did not believe that Jesus came down and dictated,

Page 82

or that Saint Germain came down and dictated, did not believe the things that they wrote, the things that they preached, but used the mail for the purpose of getting money, the jury should find them guilty. Therefore, gentlemen, religion cannot come into this case.

The District Court reiterated that admonition in the charge to the jury, and made it abundantly clear. The following portion of the charge is typical:

The question of the defendants' good faith is the cardinal question in this case. You are not to be concerned with the religious belief of the defendants, or any of them. The jury will be called upon to pass on the question of whether or not the defendants honestly and in good faith believed the representations which are set forth in the indictment, and honestly and in good faith believed that the benefits which they represented would flow from their belief to those who embraced and followed their teachings, or whether these representations were mere pretenses without honest belief on the part of the defendants or any of them, and, were the representations made for the purpose of procuring money, and were the mails used for this purpose.

As we have said, counsel for the defense acquiesced in this treatment of the matter, made no objection to it during the trial, and indeed treated it without protest as the law of the case throughout the proceedings prior to the verdict. Respondents did not change their position before the District Court after verdict and contend that the truth or verity of their religious doctrines or beliefs should have been submitted to the jury. In their motion for new trial, they did contend, however, that the withdrawal of these issues from the jury was error because it was, in effect, an amendment of the indictment. That was also one of their specifications of errors on appeal. And other errors urged on appeal included the overruling of the demurrer to the indictment and the motion to quash, and the

Page 83

disallowance of proof of the truth of respondents' religious doctrines or beliefs.

The Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of conviction and granted a new trial, one judge dissenting. 138 F.2d 540. In its view, the restriction of the issue in question to...

To continue reading

Request your trial
440 practice notes
  • Implementing Legal Requirements Regarding the Equal Opportunity Clause's Religious Exemption
    • United States
    • Federal Contract Compliance Programs Office
    • Invalid date
    ...Bd. of Ind. Emp't Sec. Div., 450 U.S. 707, 714 (1981)) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also, e.g., United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 86 (1944) (``[People] may believe what they cannot prove. They may not be put to the proof of their religious doctrines or beliefs.''). To merit ......
  • Equal Participation of Faith-Based Organizations in the Federal Agencies' Programs and Activities
    • United States
    • Agency For International Development,Education Department,Justice Department,Labor Department
    • Invalid date
    ...of religion. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- \42\ See, e.g., United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 87 (1944) (Under the Constitution, ``[m]an's relation to his God was made no concern of the state. He was granted the right to worship as he please......
  • Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty
    • United States
    • Federal Register October 26, 2017
    • October 26, 2017
    ...see also Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398, 402 (1963); Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 492-93, 495 (1961); United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 86 (1944). It may not lend its power to one side in intra-denominational disputes about dogma, authority, discipline, or qualifications for min......
  • 311 F.Supp.2d 190 (D.Mass. 2004), Civ. A. 02-30138, Cloutier v. Costco Wholesale
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Massachusetts
    • March 30, 2004
    ...believe what they cannot prove. They may not be put to the proof of their religious doctrines or beliefs." United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 86, 64 S.Ct. 882, 88 L.Ed. 1148 (1944). As will be seen, even if the belief system of the Church of Body Modification is accepted on its own......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
381 cases
  • 333 F.Supp. 902 (N.D.N.Y. 1971), 71-CV-108, Biklen v. Board of Ed., City School Dist., Syracuse, New York
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit
    • November 9, 1971
    ...U.S.Const. art. II, § 1, cl. 8; id. art. VI, cl. 3; N.Y.Const. art. XIII, § 1. See also U.S.Sup.Ct.R. 5 (4). [5] United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 64 S.Ct. 882, 88 L.Ed. 1148 (1944). See Gray v. Gulf, Mobile & Ohio R. R., 429 F.2d 1064, 1066-1068 n. 4 (5th Cir. 1970), cert. denied,......
  • 344 F.2d 317 (5th Cir. 1965), 21124, Marsh v. United States
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • March 25, 1965
    ...Another clear statement of the rule is contained in the dissenting opinion of Chief Justice Stone in United States v. Ballard, 1944, 322 U.S. 78, 90, 91, 64 S.Ct. 882, 888, 88 L.Ed. 1148 Page 321 : 'An indictment is amended when it is so altered as to charge a different offense from that fo......
  • 351 F.Supp.2d 858 (E.D.Wis. 2004), 02-C-0817, Stately v. Indian Community School of Milwaukee, Inc.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 7th Circuit Eastern District of Wisconsin
    • December 30, 2004
    ...First Amendment protection need not be mainstream, popular, well-organized, or even formally identifiable. See United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 86-87, 64 S.Ct. 882, 88 L.Ed. 1148 (1944). It is not the veracity of the religious beliefs that is tested, but the sincerity with which they ......
  • 470 F.Supp. 1123 (D.Conn. 1979), Civ. B-78-328, Williams v. Warden, Federal Correctional Inst., Danbury, Connecticut
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit District of Connecticut
    • May 11, 1979
    ...freedoms. Religions other than the major religions have been afforded first amendment protections, E. g., United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 64 S.Ct. 882, 88 L.Ed. 1148 (1943) (the "I Am" movement), even in prison settings, Kennedy v. Meacham, 540 F.2d 1057 (10th Cir. 1976) (a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 firm's commentaries
  • Does RLUIPA Protect Polygamists?
    • United States
    • LexBlog United States
    • April 8, 2013
    ...Church of the Foursquare Gospel v. City of San Leandro, 673 F.3d 1059, 1069 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 86-87 (1944)). We’ll keep an eye on this situation in the “Beehive State” as it...
54 books & journal articles
  • Virtue, freedom, and the First Amendment.
    • United States
    • Notre Dame Law Review Vol. 91 Nbr. 4, April 2016
    • April 1, 2016
    ...(24) William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature 78-79 (12th ed. 1906). (25) United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 92-93 (1944) (Jackson, J., dissenting) ("I do not see how we can separate an issue as to what is believed from considerations as to what......
  • Faith profaned: the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and religion in the prisons.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 106 Nbr. 2, November - November 1996
    • November 1, 1996
    ...REP. No. 103-88, at 2-5; S. Rep. No. 103-1 1 1, at 4-7, reprinted in 1993 U.S.C.C.A.N. 1892, 1893-97. (220.) See United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 86-88 (1944) (holding that juries may determine sincerity, not truthfulness, of religious beliefs). (221.) 76 F.3d 468 (2d Cir. 1996). (222......
  • The free exercise of religion after the fall: the case for intermediate scrutiny.
    • United States
    • William and Mary Law Review Vol. 39 Nbr. 3, February 1998
    • February 1, 1998
    ...of life are, as they claim, inseparable and interdependent. Id. (39.) Id. at 215-16 (footnote omitted); see also United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 83 (1944) (stating that religious doctrines cannot be subjected to findings of "truth or falsity"). (40.) See Yoder, 406 U.S. at ......
  • The Religion Clauses of the First Amendment
    • United States
    • The Path of Constitutional Law Part IV: The Final Cause Of Constitutional Law Sub-Part Four: The First Amendment
    • January 1, 2007
    ...Religion as Speech: Justice Stevens's Religion Clause Jurisprudence, 74 Fordham L. Rev. 2241 (2006). [229] United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 86-87 (1944). [230] See, e.g., Frazee v. Illinois Employ. Sec. Dep't, 489 U.S. 829, 832-33 (1989) ("[n]ever did we suggest that unless a cla......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4 provisions
  • Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty
    • United States
    • Federal Register October 26, 2017
    • October 26, 2017
    ...see also Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398, 402 (1963); Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 492-93, 495 (1961); United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 86 (1944). It may not lend its power to one side in intra-denominational disputes about dogma, authority, discipline, or qualifications for min......
  • Equal Participation of Faith-Based Organizations in the Federal Agencies' Programs and Activities
    • United States
    • Agency For International Development,Education Department,Justice Department,Labor Department
    • Invalid date
    ...of religion. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- \42\ See, e.g., United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 87 (1944) (Under the Constitution, ``[m]an's relation to his God was made no concern of the state. He was granted the right to worship as he please......
  • Health and Human Services Department, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services,
    • United States
    • Federal Register October 02, 2002
    • August 4, 2002
    ...belief, and cited several cases in support of this argument, including Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961), United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 86-88 (1944), McDaniel v. Paty, 435 U.S. 618 (1978); Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67, 69 (1953); cf. Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228, 24......
  • Implementing Legal Requirements Regarding the Equal Opportunity Clause's Religious Exemption
    • United States
    • Federal Contract Compliance Programs Office
    • Invalid date
    ...Bd. of Ind. Emp't Sec. Div., 450 U.S. 707, 714 (1981)) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also, e.g., United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 86 (1944) (``[People] may believe what they cannot prove. They may not be put to the proof of their religious doctrines or beliefs.''). To merit ......