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Murdock v. Pennsylvania (docket #: 480) (1943)  [Findlaw]

Argument Date 03/10/1943
Decided 05/03/1943
Supreme Court Vote 5-4
Note Overruled Jones v. City of Opelika I (1942)
Supreme Court Ruling Free Exercise claim upheld; A Pennsylvania ordinance imposing a license tax for those selling merchandise when such material is religious in nature violates the Free Exercise clause.
 
IssueWhether a Pennsylvania ordinance imposing a tax on sale of religious materials violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
Majority Opinion Douglas, J.
Dissenting Opinion Reed, J. (Note: the dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Reed in 63 S.Ct. at 891 covers this case also), & Frankfurter, J. (joined by Jackson, J.) (Note: the dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Frankfurter in 63 S.Ct. at 891 covers this case also)
Lower Court Pennsylvania Superior Court
Lower Court Ruling Free Exercise Claim denied.
Lawyers
For Petitioner
Hayden C. Covington

For Respondent
Fred B. Trescher

Opinion - Lower Court
Commonwealth v. Murdock, and 7 other cases, 149 Pa.Super. 175 (Pa.Super. 1942)
News
"A Wholesome Reversal," Chicago Daily Tribune, May 5, 1943, pg. 16
"As Court Bar Tax On Printed Matter; Publishers Urge High Bench to Overrule Its Own Decision in Licensing Cases, 3 Cities Are Involved, The Took Action Against Jehovah’s Witnesses—Free Press Issue is Raised," New York Times, Mar. 6, 1943, pg. 22
"Victory For Freedom," The Washington Post, May 5, 1943, pg. 14
Henning, Arthur Sears, "Supreme Court Voids Curb, On Religious Sect; Licenses Held Peril to Free Press," Chicago Daily Tribune, May 4, 1943, pg. 1
Higgs, Edward H., "Supreme Court Voids Religious Literature Tax; Reverses Itself to Say Ordinances Violate Freedoms," The Washington Post, May 4, 1943, pg. 1
Woods, Lewis, "Jehovah Sect Wins in High Court," New York Times, May 4, 1943, pg. 6
Other
Chemerinsky, Erwin, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: PRINCIPLES & POLICIES (2nd ed., 2002), sect. 12.3.2.1
Goldberger, David, "A Reconsideration of Cox v. New Hampshire: Can Demonstrators be Required to Pay the Costs of the Using America’s Public Forums?" 60 Texas Law Review 403 (1983)
Tribe, Laurence, AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (22nd ed., 1988) sect. 14.13
Witte, John, Jr., RELIGION AND THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL EXPERIMENT (2000), p. 128
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