Cantwell V. Connecticut
One of the freedoms protected by law in the United States is the right to choose and speak about one’s religious beliefs. The first amendment of the U.S Constitution protects this freedom by preventing congress from passing any laws that prohibit, or ban, the “Free exercise” of religion. This portion of the first amendment is called the free exercise clause. This is a very important and beneficial right to everyone. This essay will illustrate how the Cantwell V. Connecticut case impacted American law.
To begin, Cantwell did have a case against Connecticut because of the right of the first amendment involving religion. How did this all begin? Newton Cantwell and his two sons, Jesse and Russell, were Jehovah’s witnesses living in Connecticut in the 1930s. Newton Cantwell and his sons went from door to door in a neighborhood in New Haven, Connecticut, practicing their faith. On one occasion Jesse Cantwell stopped on the street to talk to two men, both were Catholic. The men were angry to hear the Jehovah’s witnesses material which spoke badly of Catholics, calling them the “enemy.” One of the men wanted to hit the Cantwells, and told both Cantwells to leave them alone. The police arrested them and charged them with violating many Connecticut laws. The trial court convicted of breaking two of the laws. According to statistics, a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that 64 nations – about one-third of the countries in the world – have high or very high restrictions on religion.
Later after being convicted in a decision agreed on by all nine justices, the Supreme Court overturned the convictions. The court noted that the fourteenth amendment of the U.S Constitution prevents state governments from taking away a person’s liberty, or freedom, in an unlawful manner. The Cantwells were released because the court decided that convicting the Cantwells violated their freedom of religion. Then the court said that as long as Connecticut does not discriminate against any religion, the state may pass laws affecting the time, place, and manner in which a person may engage in religious activity, including solicitation. According to data, nearly 70 percent of the world’s 6.8 billion people live in countries with high restrictions on religion, the brunt of which often falls on religious minorities.
The Cantwell V. Connecticut case did not affect the law too much. In law it still was not clear whether state and local governments had to recognize the individual rights contained in the Bill of Rights. Cantwell was part of an important trend that, today, requires state and local governments to recognize almost all of the freedoms laid out in the Bill of Rights, including the first amendment guarantee of freedom of religion. That was the impact that the case had. It was not a huge impact but it is an important accomplishment. According to statistics, In 49 countries (25%), private individuals or groups used force or the threat of force to compel adherence to religious norms.
Some people believe the Cantwells were doing was something that they needed to be punished for. Some people believe that because what they were doing talked bad about other religions and many people found that disrespectful. That is why some people may argue that the Cantwells were disturbing the peace. However, the way that people reacted to the Cantwells could have been more understanding and respectful. That is because they were just trying to spread their beliefs and that is something that people argue.
In conclusion, the Cantwell V. Connecticut case was due to religious beliefs. It was because of the spread of their religious beliefs that the Cantwells had problems with the law. Finally, I chose this case because of the result it had at the end. The Cantwells were not found guilty because of the fourth amendment. I believe that was the appropriate decision because they had no intentions of disturbing anyone. Even though the case was not a huge impact on the law it had its effects. Those effects were that now it is required that the state and local governments recognize almost all of the freedoms laid out in the Bill of Rights.