Amalgamated Food Employees Union Local 590 v. Logan Valley Plaza, 391 U.S. 308 (1968)

2011-10-17 11:13:55

The conflict between the First Amendment rights of persons to speak and the rights of private property owners to exclude individuals from their property raises thorny questions at the intersection of state action doctrine and the First Amendment. Logan Valley concerned labor picketers who wished to inform the public of the nonunion status of a supermarket located in a large, privately owned shopping center. Accordingly, the Court needed to decide whether private property rights of the shopping center owner to declare picketers as trespassers were superior to any asserted right of the protestors to speak and to inform the public under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the federal constitution.

The Court found that if the picketing had taken place in front of a supermarket located on the public streets, the picketers would have had a First Amendment right of access. Accordingly, the Court extended its 1946 decision in Marsh v. Alabama, 326 U.S. 501 (1946), concerning a company-owned town to declare that private property may under some circumstances be treated as though it were public. The Logan Valley Mall was the functional equivalent of the business block of the town in Marsh. Once an owner opened his property generally to the public, the more his property rights became circumscribed by the Constitution. The difficulty of the issue is illustrated by the fact that the Court would revisit the issue four years later in Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner, 407 U.S. 551 (1972), and completely reverse course in Hudgens v. NLRB, 424 U.S. 507 (1976).


References and Further Reading

  • Garvey, John H. What Are Freedoms for? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996, 242–251
  • Tribe, Lawrence H. American Constitutional Law, 2nd ed. Minneola, NY: Foundation Press, 1988, 1708–1711

Cases and Statutes Cited

  • Hudgens. v. NLRB, 424 U.S. 507 (1976) 
  • Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner, 407 U.S. 551 (1972) 
  • Marsh v. Alabama, 326 U.S. 501 (1946) 

See also Lloyd Corporation v. Tanner, 407 U.S. 551 (1972)