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Prince v. Massachusetts
United States Supreme Court
321 U.S. 158 (1944)
Sarah Prince (defendant) had two young sons and custody of a nine-year-old niece, Betty Simmons. The family were Jehovah’s Witnesses, and both Prince and Simmons were ordained ministers. Prince distributed religious materials, and solicited funds therefor, on the streets of Brockton each week. She allowed the children to do the same until a school attendance officer warned her against the activity. On the evening of December 18, 1941, as Prince prepared to go out to distribute materials, the children begged to go with her. She relented. Prince and Simmons stood near a public intersection, approximately 20 feet apart from each other, holding up copies of “Watch Tower” and “Consolation” at five cents per copy. Simmons did not receive any money or distribute any materials that evening, but she had succeeded in doing so on previous occasions. Prince was charged by the state of Massachusetts (plaintiff) with violating its child labor laws, which prohibited specified child labor in public places. She appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Rutledge, J.)
Dissent (Murphy, J.)
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