Constitutional Law: Damning Blasphemy

At a high school carnival in Westminster, Md., one evening last year, Irving West, a truck driver just out of the Army, got into a fight. When a local policeman seized him, West snapped: "Get your goddam hands off me." Next day Magistrate Charles J. Simpson sentenced West to 30 days in jail and a $25 fine for disorderly conduct. That came as no surprise, but the 20-year-old veteran was totally unprepared for what followed. He was hit with an additional 30-day sentence and another $25 fine for violation of Maryland's 320-year-old blasphemy law. West, the magistrate ruled,...

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