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Lovell v. City of Griffin


This decision was the first in a long line of Supreme Court cases that struck down city ordinances requiring prior permission of an official in order to distribute literature within the limits of that city. The following year, in Schneider v. State (1939), the Supreme Court invalidated three of four ordinances from New Jersey, California, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts, each forbidding distribution of leaflets. Between 1938 and 1955, Jehovah's Witnesses alone won numerous U.S. Supreme Court cases based on claims that their freedom of speech, press, assembly, or worship were violated by laws and ordinances regulating, among other things, distribution and sales of literature, peddling, charitable solicitations, preaching in public parks, door bell ringing, and the use of "fighting words." As late as 1985, in Lowe v. SEC, the reasoning of Lovell was used by the Supreme Court in deciding whether an injunction against the publication of an investment newsletter was an unconstitutional prior restraint.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940Lovell v. City of Griffin - Significance, A Substantial Federal Question, Ordinance Is Unconstitutional Prior Restraint, `press' Includes Pamphlets