An Alabama statute prohibited picketing or loitering near business premises. A union organized a strike at a plant where almost all employees belonged to the union. On the day the plant was scheduled to resume operations, a nonunion employee came to the plant to report to work. Byron Thornhill (defendant) was on the picket line with six or eight other men. Thornhill told the employee the workers were still on strike and did not want anyone to go in to work, and the employee returned home. Thornhill was convicted for violating the picketing statute, even though both the nonunion employee and another witness testified Thornhill acted peacefully and nonthreateningly. Thornhill appealed, challenging the statute as unconstitutionally abridging freedom of speech.