The Courts and Peace Activism: Selected Legal Cases Related to Matters of Conscience and Civil Liberties


  • Charles F. Howlett


This article presents a historical overview of case law in American history as it relates to conscientious objection, free speech, right of assembly, and antiwar protest. With respect to peace history research, scholars have rarely explored how judicial decisions in the American court system have either negatively or positively affected peace action. The focus of this article is on how matters of conscience from the time of the American Revolutionary War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been addressed by the U.S. judicial system. In addition to this overview is appended a listing of many of the most important cases--federal and state--decided by the courts as related to peace and antiwar action.