In January 1941, acting pursuant to the National Security (Subversive Organisations) Regulations 1940, the Commonwealth Government declared the Jehovah's Witnesses to be 'prejudicial to the defence of the Commonwealth' and to the 'efficient prosecution of the war'. Police immediately occupied premises of the organisation.
In September 1941, the Jehovah's Witnesses applied to the High Court for an injunction to restrain the Commonwealth from further trespassing on their premises, and seeking damages.
The Jehovah's Witnesses argued that the regulations contravened the express constitutional protections for freedom from religious discrimination which they said was contained in section 116 of the Constitution, which provides that
The Court unanimously held that the National Security (Subversive Organisations) Regulations 1940 did not infringe against section 116.
Despite these findings on section 116, the Jehovah's Witnesses were ultimately successful in their challenge to the regulations, on the ground that they exceeded the scope of the Commonwealth's defence power in section 51(vi) of the Constitution.