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Marsh v. Alabama

Significance

The Marsh v. Alabama decision was a landmark First Amendment case, further establishing the "preferred position" of freedom of religion, as opposed to the rights of property owners.

Grace Marsh was a Jehovah's Witness who wanted to distribute religious literature in downtown Chickasaw, Alabama. Chickasaw was a suburb of the city of Mobile--a suburb wholly owned by the Gulf Shipbuilding Corporation.

One day Marsh stood near the town post office, handing out leaflets. In the stores nearby, signs announced:

This Is Private Property, and Without Written Permission, No Street House, or House Vendor, Agent or Solicitation of Any Kind Will Be Permitted.

Marsh was warned that she could not distribute literature without a permit, and officials made it clear that she would never be issued a permit. Marsh claimed that she had a right to hand out literature under the First Amendment of the Constitution, which protects freedom of religion and of the press. However, Marsh was arrested for violating an Alabama law that made it a crime for a person to stay on the property of someone who has asked that person to leave.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1941 to 1953Marsh v. Alabama - Significance, The Special Case Of A Company Town, The Rights Of Property Owners, The Consequences Of Marsh V. Alabama