PRINCE V. MASSACHUSETTS, 321 U. S. 158 (1944)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944)

Prince v. Massachusetts

No. 98

Argued December 14, 1943

Decided January 31, 1944

321 U.S. 158


1. A state statute provides that no minor (boy under 12 or girl under 18) shall sell, or offer for sale, upon the streets or in other public places, any newspapers, magazines, periodicals, or other articles of merchandise. The statute makes it unlawful for any person to furnish to a minor any article which he knows the minor intends to sell in violation of the law, and for any parent or guardian to permit a minor to work in violation of the law.

Held -- as applied

Page 321 U. S. 159

to a guardian who furnished a minor ward with religious literature and permitted the minor to distribute the same on the streets, although the guardian accompanied the minor and both were -- acting in accord with their religious beliefs -- not violative of freedom of religion, nor a denial of the equal protection of the laws, under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Federal Constitution. P. 321 U. S. 167.

2. Whether there was a "sale" or "offer to sell," and whether what the minor was doing was "work," within the meaning of the State statute, were question of local law upon which, on this record, the decision of the state court is binding here. P. 321 U. S. 163.

3. With respect to the public proclaiming of religion in streets and other public place, as in the case of other freedoms, the power of the State to control the conduct of children is broader than its power over adults. P. 321 U. S. 170.

4. There is no denial of equal protection of the laws in excluding children of a particular sect from such use of the streets as is barred also to all other children. P. 321 U. S. 170.

313 Mass. 223, 46 N.E.2d 755, affirmed.

APPEAL from a judgment entered on a rescript from the highest court of the State, which sustained convictions on two of three complaints for violations of a state statute.

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