289 U.S. 103 (1933), 423, Levering & Garrigues Co. v. Morrin

Docket Nº:No. 423
Citation:289 U.S. 103, 53 S.Ct. 549, 77 L.Ed. 1062
Party Name:Levering & Garrigues Co. v. Morrin
Case Date:April 10, 1933
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 103

289 U.S. 103 (1933)

53 S.Ct. 549, 77 L.Ed. 1062

Levering & Garrigues Co.



No. 423

United States Supreme Court

April 10, 1933

Argued February 17, 1933




1. The jurisdiction of the District Court on the ground of federal question is to be determined by the allegations of the bill, and not upon the facts as they may turn out, or by a decision of the merits. P. 105.

2. If the bill or the complaint sets forth a substantial claim under a federal statute, the case is within the federal jurisdiction, however the court may decide upon the legal sufficiency of the facts alleged to support the claim. Id.

3. But if the claim pleaded is plainly unsubstantial, jurisdiction is wanting. Id.

4. The federal claim averred may be plainly unsubstantial either because obviously without merit or because it is clearly foreclosed by the previous decisions of this Court. Id.

5. A conspiracy to halt or suppress local building operations solely for the purpose of compelling employment of union labor cannot be adjudged a conspiracy to restrain interstate commerce merely because, incidentally, by checking the local use of building materials, it will curtail the sale and shipment of those materials in interstate commerce. Industrial Assn. v. United States, 268 U.S. 64, 77-78, 80-82. P. 106.

61 F.2d 115 affirmed.

Certiorari, 287 U.S. 590, to review the reversal of a decree of injunction in a suit by building concerns alleging conspiracy by union labor organizations.

Page 104

SUTHERLAND, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a suit brought by petitioners against respondents in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York to enjoin respondents from combining or conspiring to compel petitioners to employ, in their work of fabricating and erecting structural iron and steel, only members of a labor union, and to refrain from employing nonmembers, from conducting, inducing, or advising a boycott of petitioners, and from other enumerated acts. The bill invoked the jurisdiction of the federal court upon the ground of diversity of citizenship, and also upon the ground that acts complained of unlawfully interfered with interstate commerce and constituted a violation of the federal antitrust acts. The case was sent to a referee, who, after a hearing, made a report and decision sustaining the charge of boycotting, but holding that the interference occasioned thereby was local in character, and did not constitute an interference with interstate commerce. The report and decision were confirmed [53 S.Ct. 550] by the District Court, and the bill dismissed as to certain of the respondents, and an injunction issued against others, the particulars of which, in the view we take of the case, it is not necessary to state.

The Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decree of the District Court holding that the allegations of the bill were insufficient to establish jurisdiction on the ground of diversity of citizenship, and that, the case having failed on the federal question, the court was without power to consider the nonfederal question because it was asserted in an independent cause of action. While resting its decision upon these considerations, that court expressed the further view that the allegations of the bill in respect of the claim of federal jurisdiction under the antitrust acts were probably so unsubstantial as to disclose, on the face

Page 105

of the bill, a lack of federal jurisdiction. The District Court was directed to dismiss the bill without prejudice for lack of jurisdiction unless amendments could be made to correct the defect in respect of diversity of citizenship. 61 F.2d 115. This Court granted certiorari limited to the question of federal jurisdiction other than questions relating to diversity of citizenship, 287 U.S. 590.

The question of jurisdiction as thus limited is to be determined by the allegations of the bill, and not upon the facts as they may turn out, or by a decision of the merits. Mosher v. Phoenix, 287 U.S. 29, 30, and cases cited. Whether an objection that a bill or a complaint fails to state a case under a federal statute raises a question of jurisdiction or of merits is to be determined by the application of...

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