Supreme Court cases involving Jehovah's Witnesses
About Jehovah's Witnesses
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J.F. Rutherford • F.W. Franz
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R. Franz • E.C. Gruss
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Internationally there have been numerous Supreme Court cases involving Jehovah's Witnesses. The cases revolve around three main subjects: freedom to practice their religion, laws requiring nationistic practices and law regarding blood transfusions.
• 1 Canada
• 2 El Salvador
• 3 Germany
• 4 India
• 5 Japan
• 6 Philippines
• 7 Russia
• 8 United States
• 9 References
• 10 External links
The Supreme Court of Canada has made a number of important decisions concerning Jehovah's Witnesses. These include the striking down of Quebec's Padlock Law and other anti-Witness laws in the 1950s and more recent cases dealing with whether Witness parents had the right to decide what medical treatment was in the best interest of their children based on their faith.
 El Salvador
In 1998, El Salvador's Supreme Court of Justice recently struck down a Social Security Hospital rule that required patients to donate blood in order to receive medical treatment. Previously, hospital policy called for all patients to provide two units of blood prior to a surgical procedure. After this, those who wish to receive medical treatment in the Social Security Hospital have the legal right to choose not to give blood.
In December of 2000, Germany's Supreme court ruled that Jehovah's Witnesses did not have to pass a test of "loyalty to the state", laying the foundation for greater freedoms of worship for German citizens.
In November 1985, Jehovah's Witnesses' children in the state of Kerala refused to sing the national anthem, and were dismissed from schools. V. J. Emmanuel, whose children Binu Mol and Bindu were expelled from school, appealed to the Supreme Court of India for legal remedy. In August 11, 1986, it overruled the Kerala High Court, and stated: "Our tradition teaches tolerance, our philosophy teaches tolerance, our Constitution practices tolerance, let us not dilute it."
On March 8, 1996, the Supreme Court of Japan ruled that Kobe Municipal Industrial Technical College violated the law by expelling Kunihito Kobayashi for his refusal to participate in Kendo lessons. He felt that these drills were not in harmony with such Bible principles as the one found at Isaiah 2:4, which says: "They will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore." The Court's decision established a precedent for future cases.
Misae Takeda, one of Jehovah's Witnesses, was given a blood transfusion in 1992, while still under sedation following surgery to remove a malignant tumor of the liver. On February 29, 2000, the four judges of the Supreme Court unanimously decided that doctors were at fault because they failed to explain that they might give her a blood transfusion if deemed necessary during the operation, thus depriving her of the right to decide whether to accept the blood transfusion or not.
In the case of Roel Ebralinag, et al. vs. Superintendent of Schools of Cebu (G.R. No. 95770; March 1, 1993), the Supreme Court of the Philippines held that exemption may be accorded to the Jehovah's Witnesses with regard to the observance of the flag ceremony out of respect for their religious beliefs.
In two separate rulings in the case of Estrada vs. Escritor (A.M. No. P-02-1651; August 4, 2003 and June 22, 2006), the Supreme Court of the Philippines effectively granted an exception to laws regarding marriage to Soledad S. Escritor because enforcement of those laws would have inhibited the free exercise of her religious beliefs as a practicing Jehova's Witness. The Supreme Court ruling in this case is a landmark ruling with far-reaching implications for the status of religious freedom in the Philippines.
After the fall of the communist block of nations in Eastern Europe and Asia, Jehovah's Witnesses were allowed to worship freely in those nations for the first time since WWII. However, recent years have seen a resurgence of political resistance to "minority" religions prompting several court cases in the Moscow courts which have led to the denial of registration for Jehovah's Witnesses in the Moscow district.
 United States
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Harlan Fiske Stone wrote, "The Jehovah's Witnesses ought to have an endowment in view of the aid which they give in solving the legal problems of civil liberties."
In the United States numerous cases involving Jehovah's Witnesses are now landmark decisions of First Amendment law. In all, Jehovah's Witnesses brought 23 separate First Amendment actions before the U.S. Supreme Court between 1938 and 1946.
The most important U.S. Supreme Court legal victory won by the Witnesses was in the case West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette, in which the court ruled that school children could not be forced to pledge allegiance to or salute the U.S. flag. The Barnette decision overturned an earlier case, Minersville School District vs. Gobitis (1940), in which the court had held that Witnesses could be forced against their will to pay homage to the flag.
In a more recent case, Jehovah's Witnesses refused to get government permits to solicit door-to-door in Stratton, Ohio. In 2002, the case was heard in the U.S. Supreme Court (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society v. Village of Stratton). The Court ruled in favor of the Jehovah's Witnesses, ensuring the freedom of all to go door-to-door without obtaining permits.
1. ^ http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1993/mar1993/gr_95770_1993.html
2. ^ http://www.supremecourt.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2003/aug2003/am_p_02_1651.htm
3. ^ http://www.supremecourt.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2006/june2006/A.M.%20No.%20P-02-1651.htm
 External links