COX V. NEW HAMPSHIRE, 312 U. S. 569 (1941)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U.S. 569 (1941)

Cox v. New Hampshire

No. 502

Argued March 7, 1941

Decided March 31, 1941

312 U.S. 569


1. Civil liberties, as guaranteed by the Constitution, imply the existence of an organized society maintaining public order, without which liberty itself would be lost in the excesses of unrestrained abuses. P. 312 U. S. 574.

2. The authority of a municipality to impose regulations in order to assure the safety and convenience of the people in the use of public highways has never been regarded as inconsistent with civil liberties, but rather as one of the means of safeguarding the good order upon which they ultimately depend. P. 312 U. S. 574.

Page 312 U. S. 570

3. As regulation of the use of the streets for parades and processions is a traditional exercise of control by local government, the question in a particular case is whether that control is exerted so as not to deny or unwarrantedly abridge the right of assembly and the opportunities for the communication of thought and the discussion of public questions immemorially associated with resort to public places. P. 312 U. S. 574.

4. A state law providing that no parade or procession upon any public street shall be permitted unless a special license therefor shall first be obtained from the selectmen of the town, or from a licensing committee for the city, and subjecting any violator to a fine, held constitutional, in view of its construction by the state supreme court, as applied to members of the band of "Jehovah's Witnesses," who marched in groups of from fifteen to twenty members each, in close single files, along the sidewalks in the business district of a populous city, each marcher carrying a sign or placard with "informational" inscriptions. P. 312 U. S. 575.

5. In exercise of its power to license parades on city streets, the State may charge a license fee reasonably adjusted to the occasion, for meeting administrative and police expenses. P. 312 U. S. 576.

91 N.H. 137; 16 A.2d 508, affirmed.

APPEAL from the affirmance of judgments imposing fines on violators of a state law regulating parades in city streets.

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