Jones v. Opelika: Court Upholds Law Against Selling Religious Literature Without License

Jones v. Opelika: Court Upholds Law Against Selling Religious Literature Without License

Jones v. Opelika I

Argued: Jones v. Opelika I — The U.S. Supreme Court will uphold a statute prohibiting the selling of literature without a license because it only covered individuals engaged in an commercial activity rather than a religious ritual.

According to the Court, individual rights must be balanced against competing rights of the state. The mere fact that a person is engaged in disseminating religious materials does not necessarily place his action above regulation by the state.

From the majority opinion:

"The differences between censorship and complete prohibition, either of subject matter or the individuals participating, upon the one hand, and regulation of the conduct of individuals in the time, manner and place of their activities upon the other, are decisive. ...

There is to be noted, too, a distinction between nondiscriminatory regulation of operations which are incidental to the exercise of religion or the freedom of speech or the press and those which are imposed upon the religious rite itself or the unmixed dissemination of information."

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