Alabama State Federation of Labor, Local Union No 103, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America v. Adory

Decision Date11 June 1945
Docket NumberNo. 588,588
Citation325 U.S. 450,89 L.Ed. 1725,65 S.Ct. 1384
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Messrs. Horace C. Wilkinson, of Birmingham, Ala., and Joseph A. Padway, of Washington, D.C., for petitioners.

Messrs. John W. Lapsley and James A. Simpson, both of Birmingham, Ala., and John E. Adams, of Grove Hill, Ala., for respondents.

Mr. Chief Justice STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case was brought in the state courts of Alabama for a declaratory judgment adjudicating the constitutional validity of certain sections of the Bradford Act, No. 298, Alabama Laws of 1943, p. 252 (Code 1940, Tit. 26 § 376 et seq.). The principal question is whether petitioners' contentions are so related to any case or controversy presented by the record that this Court may appropriately pass upon them in a declaratory judgment proceeding.

Petitioners are four affiliated, unincorporated labor organizations, the American Federation of Labor, and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, which are national labor organizations, and two Alabama labor organizations, and an individual who is a citizen of Alabama and a member of petitioner, Local Union No. 103, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

Petitioners brought the present suit in the Alabama Circuit Court for Jefferson County against respondents, officers of Jefferson County, charged with the duty of enforcing the Bradford Act. They prayed a declaratory judgment that the Act as a whole and specifically §§ 7, 15, and 16, among others, are unconstitutional and void under federal and state constitutions.

After a trial upon a stipulated statement of facts, certain affidavits and the testimony of witnesses, the circuit court held the Act as a whole, and specifically § 7 of the Act, to be valid and constitutional. It declined as 'inappropriate' to make declarations as to the validity of §§ 15 and 16. On appeal, petitioners assigning as error the circuit court's failure to pass upon the constitutionality of §§ 15 and 16, and to declare those sections and § 7 unconstitutional, the state supreme court held all three sections valid and constitutional. Ala.Sup., 18 So.2d 810. We granted certiorari, 324 U.S. 703, 65 S.Ct. 191, upon a petition which presented the contentions1 that §§ 7 and 16 impose a prior general restraint on petitioners' freedom of speech and assembly guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution and conflict with the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq., by depriving them of rights under it; that §§ 7, 15 and 16 are an arbitrary and unreasonable exercise of the state police power which denies petitioners due process and equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; and that §§ 15 and 16 are so ambiguous and uncertain in their requirements as to deny petitioners due process of law.

The Bradford Act is a comprehensive enactment regulating labor unions having members who are employees working in the State of Alabama. It establishes a Department of Labor under the supervision and control of a director of labor; it sets up mediation machinery for the settlement of labor disputes. It requires all labor organizations within the provisions of the Act to file with the Department various reports and financial statements and to pay filing fees. It regulates some phases of he internal affairs and activities of labor organizations, and various aspects of picketing, boycotting and striking. It imposes civil liability and criminal penalties for violation of its provisions.

Section 7 provides that 'Every labor organization functioning in Alabama shall within sixty days after the effective date of this chapter, and every labor organization hereafter desiring to function in Alabama shall, before doing so, file a copy of its constitution and its by-laws and a copy of the constitution and by-laws of the national or international union, if any, to which the labor organization belongs, with the department of labor * * *. All changes or amendments to the constitution or by-laws, local, national or international, adopted subsequent to their original filing must be filed with the department of labor within thirty days after' their adoption.

Section 7 further provides that 'Every labor organization functioning in the State of Alabama and having twenty-five or more members,' shall file annually with every member of the organization and with the Director of the Department of Labor a verified written report giving detailed information as to its name, the location of its offices, the officers of the organization, their salaries, wages, bonuses, and other remuneration, the date of the election of officers, the number of its paid up members, and a complete financial statement showing all receipts and disbursements with the names of recipients and purpose thereof, and a complete statement of the money and property owned by the organization. Section 7 also declares, 'It shall be unlawful for any fiscal or other officer or agent of any labor organization to collect or accept payment of any dues, fees, assessments, fines, or any other monies from any member while such labor organization is in default with respect to filing the annual report * * *.'

Section 15 reads: 'It shall be unlawful for any labor organization, any labor organizer, any officer, agent, representative or member of any labor organization, or any other person, to collect, receive or demand, * * * from any person, any fee, assessment, or sum of money whatsoever, as a work permit or as a condition for the privilege of work; provided, however, this shall not prevent the collection of initiation fees or dues.'

Section 16 prescribes: 'It shall be unlawful for any executive, administrative, professional or supervisory employee to be a member in, or to be accepted for membership by, any labor organization, the constitution and by-laws of which permit membership to employees other than those in executive, administrative, professional, or supervisory capacities, or which is affiliated with any labor organization which permits membership to employees other than those in an executive, administrative, professional, or supervisory capacity. The provisions of this Section shall not be construed so as to interfere with or void any insurance contract now in existence and in force.' Section 18 enacts, 'If any labor organization violates any provision of this chapter, it shall be penalized civilly in a sum not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) for each such violation * * *. The doing of any act forbidden or declared unlawful by the provisions of this chapter * * * shall constitute a misdemeanor, and shall be punishable by a fine * * * or by imprisonment.'

Infringement of freedom of speech and assembly by sections 7 and 16.

Petitioners do not deny the authority of the state to regulate labor unions. They do not contend that all their practices shown by the record or all their activities required to be reported by § 7 are within the protection of the constitutional provisions preserving the right to free speech or assembly, or that the requirement of § 7 that petitioners file reports, of itself, infringes their right of free speech. But construing the words of § 7 which provide that labor organizations 'functioning' in the state shall file the prescribed statements or eports, and the further requirement that every labor organization 'desiring to function' in Alabama shall, before doing so, file certain prescribed documents, petitioners attack the section as a licensing provision and assail its validity on the ground that as such it is a restraint upon their freedom of speech and assembly.

No officer or representative of the state is empowered by the terms of the section to grant or withhold a license authorizing a labor organization to function within the state. The State Supreme Court so held in this case. The argument is that compliance with § 7 is made prerequisite to the functioning of any labor organization within the state, and that one of the functions of petitioners is the exercise of their right of freedom of speech and assembly to advance the interests of labor and labor organizations by winning public support for their program, through education and dissemination of information. They say that the requirement of a license, before a labor organization can function within the state, to be secured by filing the requisite statements and reports, is an unconstitutional restraint on their right of free speech and assembly. Specifically they argue that if they fail to file any of the statements required by § 7 and afterwards function as a labor union within the state, by exercising their right of free speech and assembly, they may be subjected to the criminal penalties imposed by § 18, and may also be enjoined from so functioning by a civil suit in equity in the state courts.

In considering this objection to § 7 the Supreme Court of Alabama did not elaborate on the meaning of the terms 'function' or 'functioning' as used in the statute. It indicated that they embrace the conduct of the business activities of labor organizations within the state, such as the assessment and collection of fines and dues, the collection of monies and their disbursement, the management of their property, the election of their officers and the appointment of their agents, and the maintenance and defense of suits in the courts. And it added "Function' as used in this Act, simply means a labor organization, whether incorporated or not engaged in business in this State, and in the character of business thus indicated, for the promotion of the interests of its members. True, as a part of its functioning, and a part only, the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
420 cases
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia
    • January 21, 1958
    ...L.Ed. 1407; Meredith v. City of Winter Haven, 1943, 320 U.S. 228, 232, 64 S.Ct. 7, 88 L.Ed. 9; Alabama State Federation of Labor, etc. v. McAdory, 1945, 325 U.S. 450, 65 S.Ct. 1384, 89 L.Ed. 1725; A. F. of L. v. Watson, 1946, 327 U.S. 582, 600, 66 S.Ct. 761, 90 L.Ed. 873; Rescue Army v. Mun......
  • Grove Press, Inc. v. Bailey
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Alabama
    • August 14, 1970
    ...86 L.Ed. 1355; Spector Motor Service, Inc. v. McLaughlin, 323 U.S. 101, 65 S.Ct. 152, 89 L.Ed. 101; Alabama State Federation of Labor v. McAdory, 325 U.S. 450, 65 S.Ct. 1384, 89 L.Ed. 1725. The second of these interests has been found, for example, in situations in which the exercise of jur......
  • Amos v. Corporation of Presiding Bishop
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Utah
    • January 11, 1984
    ...may not "decide any constitutional question in advance of the necessity for its decision...." Federation of Labor v. McAdory, 325 U.S. 450, 461, 65 S.Ct. 1384, 1389, 89 L.Ed. 1725 (1945). Accord Rosenberg v. Fleuti, 374 U.S. 449, 451, 83 S.Ct. 1804, 1806, 10 L.Ed.2d 1000 (1963) (courts "`ou......
  • Arrow Lakes Dairy, Inc. v. Gill
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
    • December 27, 1961 to dispose of the case by construing § 22-196 to avoid constitutional doubts. See Alabama State Federation of Labor, etc. v. McAdory, 325 U.S. 450, 471, 472, 65 S.Ct. 1384, 89 L.Ed. 1725 (1945); Spector Motor Service v. McLaughlin (supra). The extent to which the doctrine of abstention......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • True God of the next justice.
    • United States
    • Constitutional Commentary Vol. 18 No. 1, March 2001
    • March 22, 2001
    ...Const., Art. III, [section] 2. (67.) See generally Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 699 (1997); Alabama State Fed. of Labor v. McAdory, 325 U.S. 450, 461 (68.) Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). (69.) 410 U.S. 113 (1973). (70.) See Crossing the Threshold of......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT