1940 April 28

Supreme Court Affirms Right to Picket


In the case of Thornhill v. Alabama, decided on this day, the Supreme Court upheld a constitutional right to picket under the First Amendment. At issue was an Alabama state law that severely limited picketing.

The Alabama law: “Section 3448. Loitering or picketing forbidden. Any person or persons, who, without a just cause or legal excuse therefore. . . with the intent of influencing, or inducing other persons not to trade with, buy from, sell to, have business dealings with, or be employed by such persons, firm, corporation, or association, or who picket the works or place of business of such other persons, firms, corporations, or associations of persons, for the purpose of hindering, delaying, or interfering with or injuring any lawful business or enterprise of another, shall be guilty of a [p92] misdemeanor; . . .

The Court: “The range of activities proscribed by [the Alabama law], whether characterized as picketing, or loitering, or otherwise, embraces nearly every practicable, effective means whereby those interested — including the employees directly affected — may enlighten the public on the nature and causes of a labor dispute. The safeguarding of these means is essential to the securing of an informed and educated public opinion with respect to a matter which is of public concern.”

Learn more about your right to picket today here.

Learn more about curfews, loitering, and freedom of association: http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/curfews-loitering-freedom-of-association


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