Hudgens v. NLRB,
424 U.S. 507 (1976)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hudgens v. NLRB, 424 U.S. 507 (1976)

Hudgens v. National Labor Relations Board

No. 74-773

Argued October 14, 1975

Decided March 3, 1976

424 U.S. 507


When striking members of respondent union picketed in front of their employer's leased store located in petitioner's shopping center, the shopping center's general manager threatened them with arrest for criminal trespass if they did not depart, and they left. The union then filed unfair labor practice charges against petitioner, alleging that the threat constituted interference with rights protected by § 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), concluding that the NLRA had been violated, issued a cease and desist order against petitioner, and the Court of Appeals enforced the order. Petitioner and respondent union contend that the respective rights and liabilities of the parties are to be decided under the criteria of the NLRA alone, whereas the NLRB contends that such rights and liabilities must be measured under a First Amendment standard.


1. Under the present state of the law, the constitutional guarantee of free expression has no part to play in a case such as this, and the pickets here did not have a First Amendment right to enter the shopping center for the purpose of advertising their strike against their employer. Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner, 407 U. S. 551. Pp. 424 U. S. 512-521.

2. The rights and liabilities of the parties are dependent exclusively upon the NLRA, under which it is the NLRB's task, subject to judicial review, to resolve conflicts between § 7 rights and private property rights and to seek accommodation of such rights "with as little destruction of one as is consistent with the maintenance of the other," NLRB v. Babcock & Wilcox Co., 351 U. S. 105, 351 U. S. 112. Hence, the case is remanded so that the NLRB may reconsider the case under the NLRA's statutory criteria alone. Pp. 424 U. S. 521-523.

501 F.2d 161, vacated and remanded.

STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined.

Page 424 U. S. 508

POWELL, filed a concurring opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., joined, post, p. 424 U. S. 523. WHITE, J., filed an opinion concurring in the result, post, p. 424 U. S. 524. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post, p. 424 U. S. 525. STEVENS, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Primary Holding

The First Amendment does not protect picketing a store in a private shopping center.


The general manager of a shopping center owned by Hudgens intervened in a picketing activity by employees of a store in the shopping center. As members of a union who were on strike, they were picketing in front of the store. They left when the shopping center manager warned them that they could be arrested for criminal trespass. However, the union brought charges against the shopping center for unfair labor practices, arguing that it had interfered with rights protected by the National Labor Relations Act. The National Labor Relations Board agreed and issued a cease-and-desist order against the shopping center, which the court of appeals enforced.

Hudgens and the union argued that the standard set by the NLRA should decide the case, while the NLRB argued that the First Amendment applied to the situation.



  • Potter Stewart (Author)
  • Warren Earl Burger
  • Harry Andrew Blackmun
  • Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr.
  • William Hubbs Rehnquist

The related decision in Amalgamated Food Employees Union Local 590 v. Logan Valley Plaza, Inc. (1968) is overturned. A private shopping center cannot be subject to the First Amendment, and private parties are not prevented from restricting the free speech of others who are on their property.


  • Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr. (Author)
  • Warren Earl Burger


  • Byron Raymond White (Author)


  • Thurgood Marshall (Author)
  • William Joseph Brennan, Jr.


  • John Paul Stevens (Author)

Case Commentary

A mall is a private actor, so the First Amendment does not apply, as it would to a company town. This case sought to overrule a conflict between the Court's own precedents.

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