Food Employees v. Logan Valley Plaza, Inc.
391 U.S. 308 (1968)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Food Employees v. Logan Valley Plaza, Inc., 391 U.S. 308 (1968)

Amalgamated Food Employees Union Local 590 v. Logan Valley Plaza, Inc.

No. 478

Argued March 14, 1968

Decided May 20, 1968

391 U.S. 308


Respondent Weis Markets owns and operates a supermarket in a large shopping center complex owned by respondent Logan Valley Plaza. In front of Weis' building is a covered porch and a parcel pickup zone. Members of petitioner union picketed Weis' store, confining the picketing almost entirely to the parcel pickup zone and the portion of the parking area adjacent thereto. The picketing was peaceful, with some sporadic and infrequent congestion of the parcel pickup area. A Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas enjoined "picketing and trespassing upon . . . the [Weis] storeroom, porch and parcel pick-up area . . . [and] the [Logan] parking area," thus preventing picketing inside the shopping center. That court held the injunction justified in order to protect respondents' property rights and because the picketing was unlawfully aimed at coercing Weis to compel its employees to join a union. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed the issuance of the injunction on the sole ground that petitioners' conduct constituted a trespass on respondents' property.


1. Peaceful picketing carried on in a location open generally to the public is, absent other factors involving the purpose or the manner of the picketing, protected by the First Amendment. Pp. 391 U. S. 313-315.

2. Although there may be regulation of the manner in which handbilling, or picketing, is carried out, that does not mean that either can be barred under all circumstances on publicly owned property simply by recourse to traditional concepts of property law concerning the incidents of ownership of real property. Pp. 391 U. S. 315-316.

3. Since the shopping center serves as the community business block "and is freely accessible and open to the people in the area and those passing through," Marsh v. Alabama, 326 U. S. 501, 326 U. S. 508, the State may not delegate the power, through the use of trespass laws, wholly to exclude those members of the public wishing to exercise their First Amendment rights on the premises in a manner

Page 391 U. S. 309

and for a purpose generally consonant with the use to which the property is actually put. Pp. 391 U. S. 316-325.

425 Pa. 382, 227 A.2d 874, reversed and remanded.

Primary Holding
A business in a privately owned shopping center cannot prevent labor picketing in its surroundings.
A shopping center complex that was owned by Logan Valley Plaza contained a supermarket operated by Weis Markets. This supermarket was picketed by members of the Amalgamated Food Employees Union, who limited their activities to the parcel pickup zone near the covered porch in front of its building, as well as the adjacent area of the parking lot. Although some congestion in the parcel pickup area resulted occasionally, the picketing unfolded largely uneventfully.

However, a Pennsylvania state court issued an injunction against picketing and trespassing in and around the Weis store and parcel pickup area, as well as the adjacent parking lot. While this essentially was a blanket prohibition against picketing in the shopping center, the court justified its reasoning on the grounds that the injunction was needed to protect the shopping center's property rights and that the picketing was intended to coerce Weis into allowing its employees to join a union, which was an illegal objective. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed the injunction onthe sole basis that the picketers were trespassing on private property. They brought an appeal under the First Amendment.



  • Thurgood Marshall (Author)
  • Earl Warren
  • John Marshall Harlan II
  • William Joseph Brennan, Jr.
  • Potter Stewart
  • Abe Fortas

The First Amendment clearly permits this type of picketing in a public location, so the only remaining inquiry is whether it permits this type of picketing on private property. The shopping center resembles the business block in Marsh v. Alabama (1946), which was found to be a quasi-public location for First Amendment purposes. It is a collection of community businesses that is open to the public, so members of the public may not be barred from exercising their First Amendment rights there in a way that is consistent with the use of the property. This does not mean that the shopping center and the state cannot impose reasonable regulations on how First Amendment rights are exercised in the area.


  • William Orville Douglas (Author)


  • Byron Raymond White (Author)


  • Hugo Lafayette Black (Author)

Case Commentary

The First Amendment now clearly applies to protect peaceful demonstrations in shopping centers or other venues that are privately controlled but open to the public. This case has implications for property law, since it implies that an owner can implicitly lose rights by choosing to open property for public use.

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