2 Bill Rts. Rev. 262 (1941-1942)
Jehovah's Witnesses Mold Constitutional Law

handle is hein.journals/brr2 and id is 276 raw text is: JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES MOLD
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
BY JOHN E. MULDER AND MARVIN COMISKY*

SELDOM, if ever, in the past, has
one individual or group been able to
shape the course, over a period of time,
of any phase of our vast body of con-
stitutional law. But it can happen, and
it has happened, here. The group is
Jehovah's Witnesses. Through almost
constant litigation this organization has
made possible an ever-increasing list of
precedents concerning the application of
the Fourteenth Amendment to freedom
of speech and religion.
The First Amendment protects free-
dom of speech and religion from undue
encroachment by the Federal Govern-
ment. Of course, the freedoms are not
defined therein. They assume definite
content only when an individual alleges
in the court room that as to him they
have been infringed. As that body of
precedents increases predictions as to
future conduct become more accurately
possible. In  normal, peaceful eras
precedents seldom arise because chal-
lenges to them do not occur. Nonethe-
less, during the course of time a sub-
stantial body of case law has developed
concerning the First Amendment. Only
in recent years, however, has the Four-
teenth Amendment been judicially con-
sidered  as protecting  the freedoms
against encroachment by the states. Mi-
nute analysis here becomes possible only
as a sufficient variety of cases comes
before the courts. Until that occurs,
prediction as to permissible conduct is
little more than guesswork.
* Acknowledgment is gratefully made of the
assistance of Norman Abrahamson, third-year
student in the University of Pennsylvania Law

In the World War Espionage cases
the Supreme Court evolved the now-
familiar clear and present danger test
as the most definite available standard
concerning the First Amendment. More
recently, the same test has been applied
to state legislation under the Fourteenth
Amendment. And so, a body of prece-
dent crystallizing rules regarding the
limits of encroachments by the States
has been developing.
To this development Jehovah's Wit-
nesses have contributed the most, both
in quantity and in significance. Prima-
rily their interest has not been merely to
develop this phase of constitutional law;
rather, it has been to maintain and per-
petuate the existence of the organiza-
tion. This cult has found it necessary
to struggle against a tremendous surge
of unfriendly local opinion and opposi-
tion-opposition aided by local laws
designed  to  curtail the  Witnesses'
functions  and   activities--opposition
aided and abetted by zealously antagon-
istic local law-enforcement authorities.
Wherever and whenever they have been
thus hampered, the Witnesses have
alleged that the local legislation in-
fringed upon their freedom of speech
and religion. Favored by a strong or-
ganization with adequate financial sup-
port, they have been ready, able and
willing to carry these issues to the high-
est tribunal in the country. The deci-
sions resulting therefrom now set the
pattern for state courts in determining
School, and now in the armed forces of the coun-
try, in the preparation of this paper.

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