THORNHILL v. ALABAMA

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
514
Petitioner 
Thornhill
Respondent 
Alabama
Opinion 
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Byron Thornhill joined a picket line that was protesting against his former employer. Section 3448 of Alabama state law made it an offense to picket. Pursuant to the law, Thornhill was arrested and fined $100. Thornhill, a union president, was the only picketer to be arrested and tried under the law.

Question 

Did the Alabama law violate Thornhill's right to free expression under the First Amendment?

Conclusion 

In an 8-to-1 decision, the Court held that Section 3448 of the Alabama State Code was facially invalid. The Court held that labor relations were "not matters of mere local or private concern," and that free discussion concerning labor conditions and industrial disputes was "indispensable to the effective and intelligent use of the processes of popular government to shape the destiny of modern industrial society." The Court found that no clear and present danger of destruction of life or property or of breach of the peace was inherent to labor picketing, and thus deserved First Amendment protection.

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THORNHILL v. ALABAMA. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 10 November 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1939/1939_514>.
THORNHILL v. ALABAMA, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1939/1939_514 (last visited November 10, 2014).
"THORNHILL v. ALABAMA," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed November 10, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1939/1939_514.