Torcaso v. Watkins
367 U.S. 488 (1961)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961)

Torcaso v. Watkins

No. 373

Argued April 24, 1961

Decided June 19, 1961

367 U.S. 488

Syllabus

Appellant was appointed by the Governor of Maryland to the office of Notary Public, but he was denied a commission because he would not declare his belief in God, as required by the Maryland Constitution. Claiming that this requirement violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, he sued in a state court to compel issuance of his commission, but relief was denied. The State Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the state constitutional provision is self-executing, without need for implementing legislation, and requires declaration of a belief in God as a qualification for office. Held: This Maryland test for public office cannot be enforced against appellant, because it unconstitutionally invades his freedom of belief and religion guaranteed by the First Amendment and protected by the Fourteenth Amendment from infringement by the States. Pp. 367 U. S. 489-496.

223 Md. 49, 162 A.2d 438, reversed.

Page 367 U. S. 489

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