Follett v. Town of McCormick: 'Freedom of Religion' Means 'Freedom From Government Fees'

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Argued: Follett v. Town of McCormick - Should people who earn their living by selling or distributing religious materials be required to pay the same licensing fees and taxes as are expected of those who sell or distribute non-religious materials? Does "freedom of religion" also mean "freedom from having to pay government fees" like everyone else?

The Supreme Court will rule that, no, people who distribute religious material can be exempted from the licensing or other fees which distributors of secular material all have to pay. Justice Murphy writes:

"There is an obvious difference between taxing commercial property and investments undertaken for profit, whatever use is made of the income, and laying a tax directly on an activity that is essentially religious in purpose and character or on an exercise of the privilege of free speech and free publication."

In effect, then, "freedom of religion" can mean "freedom from having to pay government fees like everyone else."

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