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Convicted sex offenders, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the First Amendment

Beginning in the 1930s, shortly after the Supreme Court had “incorporated” the First Amendment into the due process clause (thereby making it an enforceable constraint not only on the federal government [“Congress shall make no law . . .”] but on State and municipal governments as well) the Jehovah’s Witnesses went on a campaign to attack, in court, restrictions on their ability to proselytize door-to-door and to give voice to unpopular views. During one particular 8 year period (1938 to 1946) they brought no fewer than 23 separate First Amendment actions to the Supreme Court (prompting Justice Stone to quip that they “ought to have an endowment in view of the aid they give in solving the legal problems of civil liberties”). Full Article

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  1. sérviam

    The relevant paragraph:

    “Convicted sex offenders are probably one of a very small number of groups that are even more despised than the Jehovah’s Witnesses were in the Thirties and Forties, and they have consequently been singled out for very harsh treatment in the law. Fighting back, they’re helping to make some good First Amendment precedent, and when the government starts cracking down on other speech by other speakers, or attempting to restrict our ability to use anonymizing tools in our Internet communications – as it will – we’ll be grateful to them for having done so.”

  2. Ron

    As a former JW, I can attest to the fact that there are many child molesters within this group. I had many young friends including myself who were inappropriately touched by leaders in the congregation. One 14 year old female friend reported to the congregation elders that one of the other elders had touched her breasts and tried to kiss her. Since she didn’t have two witnesses to the crime, they did not believe her and told her not to repeat such accusations. They then excommunicated her from the Kingdom Hall she attended and was no longer allowed to have contact with her JW friends. I know this is not the subject of this post, but I didn’t want anyone to believe they are trying to help anyone but themselves.

  3. Tired of hiding

    Personally, if I was forced to pick being either a registered sex offender or a Jehovah’s Witnesses I would pick sex offender. At least I could still look myself in the mirror.

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