Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Marsh v. Alabama case brief

Marsh v. Alabama case brief summary
326 U.S. 501 (1946)

Defendant appealed from a judgment of the Court of Appeals of Alabama, which affirmed her conviction for violation of Title 14, § 426 of the 1940 Alabama Code, which made it a crime to remain on the premises of another after having been warned not to do so.

Defendant was convicted of having remained on the premises of another after having been warned not to do so after she refused to leave a sidewalk in a town where she was handing out religious literature. The town had a business section with shops and sidewalks as well as residential neighborhoods. There was nothing in its appearance to distinguish the town from any other town, except that the title to the town property belonged to a private corporation.

Defendant claimed that the imposition of criminal punishment on her for distributing religious literature on the premises of a company-owned town violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The Court agreed, finding that whether a corporation or a municipality owned or possessed the town the public had an identical interest in the functioning of the community. The Court concluded that the managers of a company-owned town could not curtail the liberty of press and religion of its public consistently with the purposes of the constitutional guarantees and that a state statute which enforced such actions by criminally punishing those who attempted to distribute religious literature violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments.


The Court reversed the judgment of conviction.

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