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United States v. Ballard

United States Supreme Court
322 U.S. 78 (1944)



Guy W. Ballard, his wife Edna W. Ballard, and their son Donald Ballard (defendants) were indicted and convicted by the United States government for using, and conspiring to use, the mails to defraud. The indictment charged a scheme to defraud by organizing and promoting the “I Am” religious movement through the mail. The Ballards solicited funds and membership in the I Am movement by making false claims about their supernatural abilities to heal ailments and diseases. The indictment also alleged that the Ballards knew these statements were false. At trial, the district court refused to submit to the jury any questions regarding the truth or falsity of the religious beliefs or doctrines of the Ballards. Rather, the jury was instructed to convict the Ballards if it found they did not have a sincere belief in their religious doctrines. The Ballards were convicted, but the court of appeals reversed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Douglas, J.)

Dissent (Jackson, J.)

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