Jehovah’s Witnesses Refuse to Pay Fines Assessed for Distributing Literature Illegally

Jehovah’s Witnesses put a lot on the line for conscientious objection, but they show up only rarely in my tax resistance research. Here is one example, from the Mount Vernon, New York Daily Argus:

Sect Members Land in Jail

Refusal to Pay Fines Results in 2-Day Terms

 Martyrs to their cause, three of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” are serving two-day sentences in lieu of $2 fines which they refused to pay because they “don’t believe in man-made laws.”

The fines were imposed last August when the trio, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Ludovici and Susie Vitting, all of New York City, were found guilty of soliciting without a permit. They had been arrested once before that on a similar charge but were released with warning.

The defendants were attempting to sell religious literature. They refused to pay their fines and appealed to the County Court, which upheld the verdict. They then went to the Court of Appeals, but abandoned the plea, returning to the lower court where, last night, they expressed their willingness to serve jail terms.

In accordance with their principles the trio, along with 100 others of their sect, spent 33 days in the Hudson County Jail since their arrest here, on the same charge, when they refused to pay their fines in Hoboken.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have eagerly pursued remedies to government violations of their rights in the court system, with some success. In 1940, the Supreme Court ruled, in Cantwell v. Connecticut, that people could not legally be arrested for soliciting without a permit.

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