Ford Motor Co v. National Labor Relations Board

Decision Date03 January 1939
Docket NumberNos. 182,183,s. 182
Citation305 U.S. 364,59 S.Ct. 301,83 L.Ed. 221
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Messrs. Alfred McCormack and Frederick H. Wood, both of New York City, for petitioner.

Mr. Charles Fahy, of Washington, D.C., for respondent.

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

This case presents the question of the propriety of the action of the Circuit Court of Appeals in remanding a cause to the National Labor Relations Board for the purpose of setting aside its findings and order, and issuing proposed findings, and making its decision and order upon reconsideration.

The National Labor Relations Board, on December 22, 1937, entered an order against petitioner directing it to desist from described practices and to offer reinstatement, with back pay, to certain discharged employees.

On January 7, 1938, the Board filed its petition in No. 182 (called the Board's proceeding) in the Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking the enforcement of its order, and at the same time filed the transcript of the record.

On April 4, 1938, petitioner asked leave to adduce additional evidence. On April 11, 1938, petitioner filed its answer to the Board's petition, alleging that the order was invalid and asking that it be set aside upon the grounds, among others, that the Board had failed to accord petitioner a full and fair hearing, and that the Board had not itself considered the evidence but had adopted as its own a decision prepared by its subordinates without affording petitioner any opportunity to be heard thereon. It was also alleged that the findings were not supported by the evidence. Petitioner moved for a commission to take the depositions of witnesses, and served interrogatories upon the Board.

On May 2, 1938, after our decision in Morgan v. United States, April 25, 1938, 304 U.S. 1, 58 S.Ct. 773, 82 L.Ed. 1129, the Board filed a motion for leave to withdraw its petition for enforcement and the transcript of record, without prejudice. The Board stated that, should its motion be granted, it would set aside its order, would issue proposed findings with permission to the parties to file exceptions and present argument, and thereafter make its decision and order. On May 5, 1938, the court granted the Board's motion. On May 6, 1938, the Board served notice on petitioner of its intention to vacate its findings and order of December 22, 1937, but later in view of petitioner's objection held that action under advisement. On May 9, 1938, the or der of May 5th was amended so far as it permitted the withdrawal of the transcript of record and the court directed that the transcript remain on file. On June 2, 1938, the Board purported to withdraw its petition for enforcement. On June 4, 1938, the petitioner moved to vacate the order of May 5th. That motion was denied on June 10, 1938, with a stay of the withdrawal of the Board's petition pending application here for writ of certiorari. 305 U.S. 585, 59 S.Ct. 80, 83 L.Ed. —-.

Meanwhile, on May 4, 1938, the petitioner filed with the Circuit Court of Appeals in No. 183 (called the petitioner's proceeding) its petition asking the court to review and set aside the Board's order of December 22, 1937. On May 9, 1938, the court directed that the transcript of record filed in the Board's proceeding should be deemed to have been filed in the petitioner's proceeding to review as of the date of May 4th. On June 2, 1938, the Board filed a motion to vacate that order of May 9th. At the same time the Board moved that in the event of a denial of that motion the case should be remanded to the Board for further proceedings.

On June 10, 1938, the court entered its order denying certain motions of the petitioner for leave to amend its petition for review, denying the Board's motion to vacate the order of May 9th, and granting the Board's motion of June 2d—'to remand this cause to the National Labor Relations Board for the purpose of setting aside its findings and order of December 22, 1937, and issuing proposed findings, and making its decision and order upon a reconsideration of the entire case'.

Because of the importance of the questions presented in relation to the scope of the court's jurisdiction and its appropriate exercise, certiorari was granted to review the order of May 5th, granting the Board's motion to withdraw its petition for enforcement, and the order of June 10th, remanding the cause as above stated. October 10, 1938.

First. The authority conferred upon the Board by Section 10(d)1 of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 160(d), to modify or set aside its findings and order, ended with the filing in court of the transcript of record. Upon the filing of the transcript in connection with the Board's petition for enforcement, and notice, the Circuit Court of Appeals had jurisdiction of the proceeding as provided in Section 10(e) of the Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 160(e), as follows:

'Upon such filing (of the transcript), the court shall cause notice thereof to be served upon such person, and thereupon shall have jurisdiction of the proceeding and of the question determined therein, and shall have power to grant such temporary relief or restraining order as it deems just and proper, and to make and enter upon the pleadings, testimony, and proceedings set forth in such transcript a decree enforcing, modifying, and enforcing as so modified, or setting aside in whole or in part the order of the Board. * * * The findings of the Board as to the facts, if supported by evidence, shall be conclusive. If either party shall apply to the court for leave to adduce additional evidence and shall show to the satisfaction of the court that such additional evidence is material and that there were reasonable grounds for the failure to adduce such evidence in the hearing before the Board, its member, agent, or agency, the court may order such additional evidence to be taken before the Board, its member, agent, or agency, and to be made a part of the transcript. The Board may modify its findings as to the facts, or make new findings, by reason of additional evidence so taken and filed, and it shall file such modified or new findings, which, if supported by evidence, shall be conclusive, and shall file its recommendations, if any, for the modification or setting aside of its original order. The jurisdiction of the court shall be exclusive and its judgment and decree shall be final, except that the same shall be subject to review * * *'.

Under Section 10(f), 29 U.S.C.A. § 160(f), the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court of Appeals is of the same character and scope in a proceeding for review brought by a person aggrieved by an order of the Board as the jurisdiction which the court has in a proceeding instituted by the Board for enforcement. 2

While Section 10(f) assures to any aggrieved person opportunity to contest the Board's order, it does not require an unnecessary duplication of proceedings. The aim of the Act is to attain simplicity and directness both in the administrative procedure and on judicial review. Where the Board has petitioned for enforcement under Section 10(e) and the jurisdiction of the court has attached, no separate proceeding is needed on the part of the person thus brought into the court. The breadth of the jurisdiction conferred upon the court to set aside or modify in whole or in part the Board's order, or to permit new evidence to be taken, necessarily implies that the party proceeded against is entitled to raise all pertinent questions and to obtain any affirmative relief that is appropriate. Here, petitioner in the Board's proceeding had sought affirmative relief and had taken steps to establish that right. Considering the scope and purpose of the jurisdiction of the court in a proceeding under Section 10(e), and the position and rights of the person proceeded against, we are unable to conclude that the Board has an absolute right to withdraw its petition at its pleasure. We think that permission to withdraw must rest in the sound discretion of the court to be exercised in the light of the circumstances of the particular case.3

While in the instant case there are two proceedings, separately carried on the docket, they were essentially one so far as any question as to the legality of the Board's order was concerned. Petitioner's answer in the Board's proceeding presented substantially the same objections as those raised in petitioner's proceeding for review. The present contentions of the parties are largely addressed to procedural distinctions, but if we follow the course of the two proceedings we find that there is really but one ultimate question and that is with respect to the court's final action in remanding the cause to the Board for further proceedings.

Before the court on May 5th granted the Board's motion to withdraw its petition, the other proceeding had been instituted by the filing of the petition for review on May 4th. That proceeding was taken by petitioner as a person aggrieved by the order of December 22, 1937, and was doubtless prompted by the Board's motion to withdraw its own petition. As the transcript of the record of the administrative proceeding had already been certified and filed, it was within the court's control. The order of May 5th was amended on May 9th so as to preclude the withdrawal of the transcript, and on the same day the court ordered that the transcript be deemed to be filed in the petitioner's proceeding as of May 4th. We see no reason to doubt the power of the court to retain the transcript or to amend its order of May 5th accordingly, and certiorari has not been sought by the Board in relation to the order of May 9th. Our decision In re Matter of the National Labor Relations Board, 304 U.S. 486, 58 S.Ct. 1001, 82 L.Ed. 1482, is not apposite. There the transcript had not been filed, the court had not acquired jurisdiction of the subject...

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