The Four Freedoms
IN the field of the four freedoms, covering freedom of assembly, speech, press and religion, during the biennial period under survey, there were a number of decisions of unusual and lasting significance. Among these were several cases of considerable importance touching the right of freedom of assembly.
A. Freedom of Assembly . -- The first of these cases, Sellers v. Johnson,1 grew out of a meeting of Jehovah's Witnesses in a public park in a small Iowa town, which meeting was interrupted by a protesting mob of G. I.'s, with rioting ensuing. Fearful that a similar incident would occur at the next meeting, the town council adopted a resolution requiring the Witnesses to secure permission of the council before holding further meetings, and made violation thereof unlawful and punishable. A permit having been refused, the Witnesses instituted a class action in the federal district court against the municipality seeking, under the Federal Civil Rights Act,2 to restrain enforcement of the resolution and prayed for a declaratory judgment that the plaintiffs had a right under the Constitution to use the park in the conduct of their meetings and that the resolution requiring a permit was void. In other words, they contended that there was a violation of their federally- protected rights of assembly, free speech and worship. The trial court, after trial, dismissed the petition upon the merits, holding that there was such a clear and present danger of mob violence____________________