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Authors

Lawrence Mazer

Abstract

On January 7, 1946, the United States Supreme Court, according to Justice Reed, established as a principle "that one may remain on private property against the will of the owner and contrary to the law of the State so long as the only objection to his presence is that he is exercising an asserted right to spread there his religious views." Justice Reed and two other justices dissented to the Court's decision in Marsh v. Alabama which allowed a Jehovah's Witness access to the business block of a privately owned company town against the wishes of its owners, for purposes of distributing religious literature. The majority in Marsh noted at length the characteristics of the company town which were the same as any other American town, including streets, sewers, sewage disposal, police and a business block. The Court concluded that since the residents and visitors of a public town would not be denied freedom of press and religion, the residents and visitors of a company town could not be denied these freedoms simply because a single company held legal title to all the town's property. Since 1946, it has been argued that this principle of Marsh applied to those who sought access for religious or nonreligious purposes to a shopping center, a migrant labor camp, an industrial park, a mobile home park and a private university. For the first time, in Cape Cod Nursing Home Council v. Rambling Rose Rest Home, an appellate court was asked to apply this principle of Marsh to a plaintiff who sought access to a privately owned nursing home.

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