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Cantwell v. Connecticut

Court Develops The "time, Place, And Manner" Rule

The Court went on to point out that there are two aspects to freedom of religion, and that although freedom of conscience cannot be restricted by law, some restraints can be placed on some acts of religious adherence.

[T]he Amendment embraces two concepts--freedom to believe and freedom to act. The first is absolute but, in the nature of things, the second cannot be . . . No one would contest the proposition that a state may not, by statute, wholly deny the right to preach or to disseminate religious views. Plainly such a previous and absolute restraint would violate the terms of the guarantee. It is equally clear that a state may by general and non-discriminatory legislation regulate the times, the places, and the manner of soliciting upon the streets, and or holding meetings thereon . . .

Federal courts would go on to hear many more cases concerning time, place, and manner restrictions--not all centering on freedom of religion. In each, the preliminary inquiry was whether or not the regulation at issue was truly neutral, or "non-discriminatory," in the words of Justice Roberts' Cantwell opinion. If so, the courts must then balance the interests of those who wish to practice their religion publicly against the interests of the larger society. Recently, as the "time, place, and manner" rule has become more and more refined, the Supreme Court has been granting government more latitude in regulating the incidental effects of free expression and narrowing its definition of what constitutes a public forum, which must remain available to those wishing to exercise all of their First Amendment rights.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940Cantwell v. Connecticut - Significance, Court Develops The "time, Place, And Manner" Rule, "time, Place, And Manner" Rule