less than 1 minute read

Thornhill v. Alabama

Significance, Court Upholds Labor Pickets As Exercise Of Freedom Of Speech, Related Cases


Byron Thornhill


State of Alabama

Petitioner's Claim

That an Alabama statute prohibiting all picketing, even peaceful labor demonstrations, violated his First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

Chief Lawyers for Petitioner

James J. Mayfield, Joseph A. Padway

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

William H. Loeb

Justices for the Court

Hugo Lafayette Black, William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter, Charles Evans Hughes, Frank Murphy (writing for the Court), Stanley Forman Reed, Owen Josephus Roberts, Harlan Fiske Stone

Justices Dissenting

James Clark McReynolds


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

22 April 1940


The Supreme Court overturned the anti-picketing statute.

Further Readings

  • Bracken, Harry M. Freedom of Speech: Words Are Not Deeds. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1994.
  • Gordon, Colin. New Deals: Business, Labor, and Politics in America, 1920-1935. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
  • Whitehead, John W. The Right to Picket and the Freedom of Public Discourse. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1984.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940