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

Decision Date20 May 1968
Docket NumberNo. 478,478
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Bernard Dunau, Washington, D.C., for petitioners.

Robert Lewis, New York City, for respondents.

Mr. Justice MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents the question whether peaceful picketing of a business enterprise located within a shopping center can be enjoined on the ground that it constitutes an unconsented invasion of the property rights of the owners of the land on which the center is situated. We granted certiorari to consider petitioners' contentions that the decisions of the state courts enjoining their picketing as a trespass are violative of their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. 389 U.S. 911, 88 S.Ct. 240, 19 L.Ed.2d 258 (1967).1 We reverse.

Logan Valley Plaza, Inc. (Logan), one of the two respondents herein, owns a large, newly developed shopping center complex, known as the Logan Valley Mall, located near the City of Altoona, Pennsylvania. The shopping center is situated at the intersection of Plank Road, which is to the east of the center, and Good's Lane, which is to the south. Plank Road, also known as U.S. Route 220, is a heavily traveled highway along which traffic moves at a fairly high rate of speed. There are five entrance roads into the center, three from Plank Road and two from Good's Lane. Aside from these five entrances, the shopping center is totally separated from the adjoining roads by earthen berms. The berms are 15 feet wide along Good's Lane and 12 feet wide along Plank Road.

At the time of the events in this case, Logan Valley Mall was occupied by two businesses, Weis Markets, Inc. (Weis), the other respondent herein, and Sears, Roebuck and Co. (Sears), although other enterprises were then expected and have since moved into the center. Weis operates a supermarket and Sears operates both a department store and an automobile service center. The Weis property consists of the enclosed supermarket building, an open but covered porch along the front of the building, and an approximately five-foot-wide parcel pickup zone that runs 30 to 40 feet along the porch. The porch functions as a sidewalk in front of the building and the pickup zone is used as a temporary parking place for the loading of purchases into customers' cars by Weis employees.

Between the Weis building and the highway berms are extensive macadam parking lots with parking spaces and driveways lined off thereon. These areas, to which Logan retains title, provide common parking facilities for all the businesses in the shopping center. The distance across the parking lots to the Weis store from the entrances on Good's Lane is approximately 350 feet and from the entrances on Plank Road approximately 400 to 500 feet. The entrance on Plant Road farthest from the Weis property is the main entrance to the shopping center as a whole and is regularly used by customers of Weis. The entrance on Plank Road nearest to Weis is almost exclusively used by patrons of the Sears automobile service station into which it leads directly.

On December 8, 1965, Weis opened for business, employing a wholly nonunion staff of employees. A few days after it opened for business, Weis posted a sign on the exterior of its building prohibiting trespassing or soliciting by anyone other than its employees on its porch or parking lot. On December 17, 1965, members of Amalgamated Food Employees Union, Local 590, began picketing Weis. They carried signs stating that the Weis market was nonunion and that its employees were not 'receiving union wages or other union benefits.' The pickets did not include any employees of Weis, but rather were all employees of competitors of Weis. The picketing continued until December 27, during which time the number of pickets varied between four and 13 and averaged around six. The picketing was carried out almost entirely in the parcel pickup area and that portion of the parking lot immediately adjacent thereto. Although some congestion of the parcel pickup area occurred, such congestion was sporadic and infrequent.2 The picketing was peaceful at all times and unaccompanied by either threats or violence.

On December 27, Weis and Logan instituted an action in equity in the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County, and that court immediately issued an ex parte order enjoining petitioners3 from, inter alia, '(p)icketing and trespassing upon * * * the (Weis) storeroom, porch and parcel pick-up area * * * (and) the (Logan) parking area and all entrances and exits leading to said parking area.' 4 The effect of this order was to require that all picketing be carried on along the berms beside the public roads outside the shopping center. Picketing continued along the berms and, in addition, handbills asking the public not to patronize Weis because it was nonunion were distributed, while petitioners contested the validity of the ex parte injunction. After an evidentiary hearing, which resulted in the establishment of the facts set forth above, the Court of Common Pleas continued indefinitely its original ex parte injunction without modification.5 That court explicitly rejected petitioners' claim under the First Amendment that they were entitled to picket within the confines of the shopping center, and their contention that the suit was within the primary jurisdiction of the NLRB. The trial judge held that the injunction was justified both 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. On appeal the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, with three Justices dissenting, affirmed the issuance of the injunction on the sole ground that petitioners' conduct constituted a trespass on respondents' property.6

We start from the premise that peaceful picketing carried on in a location open generally to the public is, absent other factors involving the purpose or manner of the picketing, protected by the First Amendment. Thornhill v. State of Alabama, 310 U.S. 88, 60 S.Ct. 736, 84 L.Ed. 1093 (1940); AFL v. Swing, 312 U.S. 321, 61 S.Ct. 568, 85 L.Ed. 855 (1941); Bakery and Pastry Drivers and Helpers, Local 802 v. Wohl, 315 U.S. 769, 62 S.Ct. 816, 86 L.Ed. 1178 (1942); Chauffeurs, Teamsters and Helpers Local Union 795 v. Newell, 356 U.S. 341, 78 S.Ct. 779, 2 L.Ed.2d 809 (1958). To be sure, this Court has noted that picketing involves elements of both speech and conduct, i.e., patrolling, and has indicated that because of this intermingling of protected and unprotected elements, picketing can be subjected to controls that would not be constitutionally permissible in the case of pure speech. See, e.g., Hughes v. Superior Court of State of California in and for Contra Costa County, 339 U.S. 460, 70 S.Ct. 718, 94 L.Ed. 985 (1950); International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 695 v. Vogt, Inc., 354 U.S. 284, 77 S.Ct. 1166, 1 L.Ed.2d 1347 (1957); Cox v. State of Louisiana, 379 U.S. 559, 85 S.Ct. 476, 13 L.Ed.2d 487 (1965); Cameron v. Johnson, 390 U.S. 611, 88 S.Ct. 1335, 20 L.Ed.2d 182. Nevertheless, no case decided by this Court can be found to support the proposition that the nonspeech aspects of peaceful picketing are so great as to render the provisions of the First Amendment inapplicable to it altogether.

The majority of the cases from this Court relied on by respondents, in support of their contention that picketing can be subjected to a blanket prohibition in some instances by the States, involved picketing that was found either to have been directed at an illegal end, e.g., Giboney v. Empire Storage & Ice Co., 336 U.S. 490, 69 S.Ct. 684, 93 L.Ed. 834 (1949); Building Service Employees International Union, Local 262 v. Gazzam, 339 U.S. 532, 70 S.Ct. 784, 94 L.Ed. 1045 (1950); Local Union No. 10 United Ass'n of Journeymen, Plumbers and Steamfitters v. Graham, 345 U.S. 192, 73 S.Ct. 585, 97 L.Ed. 946 (1953), or to have been directed at coercing a decision by an employer which, although in itself legal, could validly be required by the State to be left to the employer's free choice, e.g., Carpenters and Joiners Union of America, Local No. 213 v. Ritter's Cafe, 315 U.S. 722, 62 S.Ct. 807, 86 L.Ed. 1143 (1942) (secondary boycott); Brotherhood of International Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen & Helpers Union, Local 309 v. Hanke, 339 U.S. 470, 70 S.Ct. 773, 94 L.Ed. 995 (1950) (self-employer union shop). Compare NLRB v. Denver Bldg. & Const. Trades Council, 341 U.S. 675, 71 S.Ct. 943, 95 L.Ed. 1284 (1951), and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 501 v. NLRB, 341 U.S. 694, 71 S.Ct. 954, 95 L.Ed. 1299 (1951).

Those cases are not applicable here because they all turned on the purpose for which the picketing was carried on, not its location. In this case the Pennsylvania Supreme Court specifically disavowed reliance on the finding of unlawful purpose on which the trial court alternatively based its issuance of the injunction.7 It did emphasize that the pickets were not employees of Weis and were discouraging the public from patroniz- ing the Weis market. However, those facts could in no way provide a constitutionally permissible independent basis for the decision because this Court has previously specifically held that picketing of a business enterprise cannot be prohibited on the sole ground that it is conducted by persons not employees whose purpose is to discourage patronage of the business. AFL v. Swing, 312 U.S. 321, 61 S.Ct. 568, 85 L.Ed. 855 (1941). Compare Bakery and Pastry Drivers and Helpers Local 802 v. Wohl, 315 U.S. 769, 62 S.Ct. 816, 86 L.Ed. 1178 (1942). Rather, those factors merely supported the court's finding of a trespass by demonstrating that the picketing took place without the consent, and against the will, of respondents.

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