McDaniel v. Paty: Supreme Court Rules Barring Clergy from Public Office Unconstitutional

McDaniel v. Paty: Supreme Court Rules Barring Clergy from Public Office Unconstitutional

McDaniel v. Paty

Decided: McDaniel v. Paty — The U.S. Supreme Court rules that Tennessee's statute forbidding clergy from holding public office is unconstitutional because it improperly forces citizens to choose between exercising two of their fundamental rights.

Chief Justice Warren Burger writes in the majority decision:

"The right to the free exercise of religion unquestionably encompasses the right to preach, porselyte, and perform other similar religious functions, or, in other words, to be a minister of the type McDaniel was found to be. ...Tennessee has encroached on McDaniels' right to the free exercise of religion.

[T]o condition the availability of benefits [including access to the ballot] upon this appellants' willingness to violate a cardinal principle of [his] religious faith [by surrendering his religiously impelled ministry] effectively penalizes the free exercise of [his] constitutional liberties."

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