345 U.S. 67 (1953), 340, Fowler v. Rhode Island

Docket NºNo. 340
Citation345 U.S. 67, 73 S.Ct. 526, 97 L.Ed. 828
Party NameFowler v. Rhode Island
Case DateMarch 09, 1953
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 67

345 U.S. 67 (1953)

73 S.Ct. 526, 97 L.Ed. 828

Fowler

v.

Rhode Island

No. 340

United States Supreme Court

March 9, 1953

Argued February 3, 1953

APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF RHODE ISLAND

Syllabus

A municipal ordinance which is so construed and applied as to penalize a minister of Jehovah's Witnesses for preaching at a peaceful religious meeting in a public park, although other religious groups could conduct religious services there with impunity, violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Federal Constitution. Pp. 67-70.

80 R.I. ___, 91 A.2d 27, reversed.

Appellant's conviction for violation of a municipal ordinance was affirmed by the State Supreme Court. 80 R.I. ___, 91 A.2d 27. On appeal to this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1257(2), reversed and remanded, p. 70.

DOUGLAS, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

The City of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, has an ordinance which reads as follows:

SEC. 11. No person shall address any political or religious meeting in any public park; but this section shall not be construed to prohibit any political or religious club or society from visiting any public park in a body, provided that no public address shall be made under the auspices of such club or society in such park.

Jehovah's Witnesses, a religious sect, assembled in Slater Park of Pawtucket for a meeting which, at the

Page 68

trial, was conceded to be religious in character. About 400 people attended, 150 being Jehovah's Witnesses. Appellant is a minister of this sect, residing in Arlington, Mass. He was invited to Pawtucket as a visiting minister to give a talk before the Pawtucket congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Appellant accepted the invitation, attended the meeting in the park, and addressed it over two loudspeakers. It was a quiet, orderly meeting, with no disturbances or breaches of the peace whatsoever.

Appellant's address was entitled "The Pathway to Peace." He discussed the futility of efforts being made to establish peace in the world. And then, according to his uncontradicted testimony, he

launched forth into the scriptural evidence to show where we were on the string of time; that we hard reached the end of this wicked system of things.

Appellant had been talking only a few minutes when he was arrested by the police and charged with violating the ordinance set forth above. He was tried and found guilty over objections that the ordinance, as so construed and applied, violated the First and the Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. He was fined $5. His conviction was affirmed by the Rhode Island Supreme Court. 91 A.2d 27. And see Fowler v. State, 83 A.2d 67, an earlier opinion answering certified questions and holding the ordinance valid. The case is here on [73 S.Ct. 527] appeal. 28 U.S.C. § 1257(2).

Davis v. Massachusetts, 167 U.S. 43, decided in 1897, sustained a conviction of a man for making a speech on the Boston Commons in violation of an ordinance that forbade the making of a public address there without a permit from the mayor. Much of the oral argument and most of the briefs have been devoted,...

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200 practice notes
  • 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
    ...or applies the law in a manner that discriminates against religious exercise. See Lukumi, 508 U.S. at 537; Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67, 69-70 (1953) (government discriminatorily enforced ordinance prohibiting meetings in public parks against a religious group). In recognition of thi......
  • Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty
    • United States
    • Federal Register October 26, 2017
    • October 26, 2017
    ...prohibiting the unnecessary killing of animals as prohibiting only killing of animals for religious reasons); Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67, 69-70 (1953) (government discriminatorily enforced ordinance prohibiting meetings in public parks against only certain religious groups). The Fr......
  • 749 F.Supp. 715 (E.D.Va. 1990), Civ. A. 90-1007, Phillips v. Virginia Bd. of Medicine
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 4th Circuit Eastern District of Virginia
    • November 1, 1990
    ...of the Gospel or priests of any denomination" from serving as delegates to state constitutional convention); Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67, 69, 73 S.Ct. 526, 527, 97 L.Ed. 828 (1953); cf. Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228, 102 S.Ct. 1673, 72 L.Ed.2d 33 (invalidating state charitabl......
  • Jihad and the Constitution: the First Amendment implications of combating religiously motivated terrorism.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 105 Nbr. 5, March - March 1996
    • March 1, 1996
    ...U.S. 398, 402 (1963) (citation omitted). (119.) See United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 86-88 (1944). (120.) Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67, 70 (1953) (striking down conviction of Jehovah's Witness for addressing religious meeting in local park). (121.) McDaniel v. Paty, 435 U.S. 61......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
185 cases
  • 749 F.Supp. 715 (E.D.Va. 1990), Civ. A. 90-1007, Phillips v. Virginia Bd. of Medicine
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 4th Circuit Eastern District of Virginia
    • November 1, 1990
    ...of the Gospel or priests of any denomination" from serving as delegates to state constitutional convention); Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67, 69, 73 S.Ct. 526, 527, 97 L.Ed. 828 (1953); cf. Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228, 102 S.Ct. 1673, 72 L.Ed.2d 33 (invalidating state charitabl......
  • Pleasant-Bey v. Luttrell, 020121 TNWDC, 2:11-cv-02138-TLP-tmp
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 6th Circuit Western District of Tennessee
    • February 1, 2021
    ...the following: Whitney v. Brown, 882 F.2d 1068, 1073-74 (6th Cir. 1989); Turner, 482 U.S. at 89; Fowler v. State of R.I., 345 U.S. 67, 69-70 (1953); and Harbin-Bey v. Rutter, 420 F.3d 571, 576 (6th Cir. So the Sixth Circuit found that these four cases clearly e......
  • 412 U.S. 94 (1973), 71-863, Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. v. Democratic National Committee
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Supreme Court
    • May 29, 1973
    ...risk of an enlargement of Government control over the content of broadcast discussion of public issues. See, e.g., Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67 (1953); Niemotko v. Maryland, 340 U.S. 268 (1951). This risk is inherent in the Court of Appeals' remand requiring regulations and procedure......
  • 342 F.2d 255 (2nd Cir. 1965), 156-165, People of State of N. Y. v. Galamison
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
    • January 26, 1965
    ...30 L.Ed. 220 (1886); Niemotko v. State of Maryland, 340 U.S. 268, 71 S.Ct. 325, 95 L.Ed. 267 (1951); Fowler v. State of Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67, 73 S.Ct. 526, 97 L.Ed. 828 (1953), and they have made no suggestion that they wished to or properly could amend the petitions to assert this. Ev......
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1 firm's commentaries
9 books & journal articles
  • For-profit corporations, free exercise, and the HHS mandate.
    • United States
    • Washington University Law Review Vol. 91 Nbr. 3, April - April 2014
    • April 1, 2014
    ...of their status as such, as subversive of American ideals and therefore subject to unique disabilities."); Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67, 69 (1953). (170.) Presbyterian Church in the U.S. v. Mary Elizabeth Blue Hull Mem. Presbyterian Church, 393 U.S. 440, 445 (1969); Serbian E. O......
  • Constitutional conversations and new religious movements: a comparative case study.
    • United States
    • Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law Vol. 38 Nbr. 3, May 2005
    • May 1, 2005
    ...See Poulos v. New Hampshire, 345 U.S. 395 (1953) (considering a local ordinance restricting use of public park); Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67 (1953) (considering a local ordinance restricting use of public park); Kovacs v. Cooper, 336 U.S. 77 (1949) (involving a municipal penal ordin......
  • Jihad and the Constitution: the First Amendment implications of combating religiously motivated terrorism.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 105 Nbr. 5, March - March 1996
    • March 1, 1996
    ...U.S. 398, 402 (1963) (citation omitted). (119.) See United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 86-88 (1944). (120.) Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67, 70 (1953) (striking down conviction of Jehovah's Witness for addressing religious meeting in local park). (121.) McDaniel v. Paty, 435 U.S. 61......
  • UNASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST: ON PUBLIC POLICY AND PUBLIC SERVICE BY EVANGELICALS.
    • United States
    • Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy Vol. 41 Nbr. 3, June 2018
    • June 22, 2018
    ...See id. at 99. (127.) Epperson, 393 U.S. at 103-04 (citing Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 495 (1961); Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67 (1953); Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 313-14 (1952); McCollum v. Bd. of Educ., 333 U.S. 203 (1948); Everson v. Bd of Educ., 330 U.S. 1, 18 (1947)).......
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3 provisions
  • 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
    ...or applies the law in a manner that discriminates against religious exercise. See Lukumi, 508 U.S. at 537; Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67, 69-70 (1953) (government discriminatorily enforced ordinance prohibiting meetings in public parks against a religious group). In recognition of thi......
  • Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty
    • United States
    • Federal Register October 26, 2017
    • October 26, 2017
    ...prohibiting the unnecessary killing of animals as prohibiting only killing of animals for religious reasons); Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67, 69-70 (1953) (government discriminatorily enforced ordinance prohibiting meetings in public parks against only certain religious groups). The Fr......
  • Health and Human Services Department, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services,
    • United States
    • Federal Register October 02, 2002
    • August 4, 2002
    ...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, 245 (1982), Presbyterian Church in U.S. v. Mary Elizabeth Blue Hull Memorial Presbyterian Chu......