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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Grace Marsh
State of Alabama
(argued the cause for the appellant)
(Attorney General of Alabama, argued the cause for the appellee)
Facts of the Case 

Grace Marsh, a Jehovah's Witness, attempted to distribute religious literature on the sidewalk near a post office in Chickasaw, Alabama. The town of Chickasaw is owned and run by the Gulf Shipbuilding Corporation and is not a public municipality. Despite this, the town exhibits most of the same characteristics as any other town. After being informed that she was on private property and told to stop distribution of her religious material, Marsh refused. She was arrested, tried, and convicted of trepass.


Did Alabama violate Marsh's rights under the First and Fourteenth amendments by refusing to allow her to distribute religious material in the privately owned town of Chickasaw?


Yes. In an opinion by Justice Hugo L. Black, the Court found, 5 to 3, that there was no significant difference between the relationship between Chickasaw and private citizens and the relationship between any other town and its citizens. As such, it employed a balancing test, weighing private property rights against an individual's right to free speech. Favoring the latter, the Court ruled in Marsh's favor.

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MARSH v. ALABAMA. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 30 August 2015. <>.
MARSH v. ALABAMA, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 30, 2015).
"MARSH v. ALABAMA," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 30, 2015,