Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation Same v. Kenzie, Nos. 181

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBRANDEIS
PartiesMYERS et al. v. BETHLEHEM SHIPBUILDING CORPORATION, Limited. SAME v. MacKENZIE et al
Decision Date31 January 1938
Docket NumberNos. 181,182

303 U.S. 41
58 S.Ct. 459
82 L.Ed. 638
MYERS et al.

v.

BETHLEHEM SHIPBUILDING CORPORATION, Limited. SAME v. MacKENZIE et al.

Nos. 181, 182.
Argued Jan. 5, 1938.
Decided Jan. 31, 1938.

[Syllabus from pages 41-43 intentionally omitted]

Page 43

Messrs. Homer S. Cummings, Atty. Gen., and Robert B. Watts, of Washington, D.C., for petitioners.

Mr. Claude R. Branch, of Providence, R.I., for respondent Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation.

Mr. B. A. Brickley, of Boston, Mass., for respondents MacKenzie and others.

Mr. Justice BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question for decision is whether a federal District Court has equity jurisdiction to enjoin the National Labor Relations Board from holding a hearing upon a complaint filed by it against an employer alleged to be engaged in unfair labor practices prohibited by National Labor Relations Act, July 5, 1935, c. 372, 49 Stat. 449, 29 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq. The Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held in these cases that the District Court possesses such jurisdiction; and granted preliminary injunctions. Every other Circuit Court of Appeals in which the question has arisen has

Page 44

held the contrary.1 Because of the importance of the questions presented, the conflict in the lower courts and alleged conflict with our own decisions, we granted these writs of certiorari. 302 U.S. 667, 58 S.Ct. 26, 27, 82 L.Ed. —-.

The declared purpose of the National Labor Relations Act is to diminish the causes of labor disputes burdening and obstructing interstate and foreign commerce; and its provisions are applicable only to such commerce. In order to protect it, the act seeks to promote collective bargaining; confers upon employees engaged in such commerce the right to form, and join in, labor organizations; defines acts of an employer which shall be deemed unfair labor practice; and confers upon the Board certain limited powers with a view to preventing such practices. If a charge is made to the Board that a person 'has engaged in or is engaging in any * * * unfair labor practice,' and it appears that a proceeding in respect thereto should be instituted, a complaint stating the charge is to be filed, and a hearing is to be held thereon upon notice to the person complained of.

The Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America, Local No. 5, made to the Board a charge that the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Limited,2 was engaging in unfair labor practices at its plant in Quincy, Mass., for the production, sale, and

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distribution of boats, ships, and marine equipment. Upon that charge the Board filed, on April 13, 1936, a complaint which alleged, among other things, that the company dominates and interferes in the manner described 'with a labor organization known as Plan of Representation of Employees in Plants of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Ltd.'; that such action leads to strikes interfering with interstate commerce; and that 'the aforesaid acts of respondent constitute unfair labor practices affecting commerce, within the meaning of Section 8, subdivisions (1) and (2) and Section 2, subdivisions (6) and (7) of said (National Labor Relations) Act (29 U.S.C.A. §§ 158(1, 2), 152(6, 7)).'

The complaint alleged, specifically:

'The respondent in the course and conduct of its business causes and has continuously caused large quantities of the raw materials used in the production of its boats, ships and marine equipment to be purchased and transported in interstate commerce from and through states of the United States other than the State of Massachusetts to the Fore River Plant in the State of Massachusetts, and causes and has continuously caused the boats, ships and marine equipment produced by it to be sold and transported in interstate commerce from the Fore River Plant in the State of Massachusetts to, into and through states of the United States other than the State of Massachusetts, all of the aforesaid constituting a continuous flow of trade, traffic and commerce among the several states.'

The Board duly notified the corporation that a hearing on the complaint would be held on April 27, 1936, at Boston, Mass., in accordance with rules and regulations of the Board, a copy of which was annexed to the notice; and that the corporation 'will have the right to appear, in person or otherwise, and give testimony.'

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On that day the corporation filed, in the federal court for Massachusetts, the bill in equity, herein numbered 181, against A. Howard Myers, acting regional director for the First Region, National Labor Relations Board, Edmund J. Blake, its regional attorney for the First Region, and Daniel M. Lyons, trial examiner, to enjoin them from holding 'a hearing for the purpose of determining whether or not the plaintiff has engaged at its Fore River Plant in any so-called unfair labor practices under the National Labor Relations Act, and from having any proceedings or taking any action whatsoever, at any time or times, with respect thereto.' There were prayers for a restraining order, an interlocutory injunction, and a permanent injunction; and also a prayer that the court declare that the National Labor Relations Act and 'defendants' actions and proposed actions thereunder' violate the Federal Constitution.

On May 4, 1936, another bill in equity, herein numbered 182, against the same defendants, seeking, on largely the same allegations of fact, substantially the same relief, was brought in the same court by Charles MacKenzie, James E. Manning, and Thomas E. Barker, employees of the Bethlehem Corporation and officers of the so-called Plan of Representation at the Fore River Plant.3

Upon the filing of each bill, the District Court issued a restraining order and an order of notice to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not issue. In each case the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the bill of complaint and also a return to the order to show cause. The cases were heard together. In each, the District Court issued the preliminary injunction; and the decrees therefor are still in efect. They were affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit on Febru-

Page 47

ary 12, 1937. 88 F.2d 154. Petitions for a rehearing, based upon the conflict with the decisions of other circuit courts of appeals, were denied. And the court denied also motions for leave to file a second petition for rehearing, based upon the decisions of this Court in National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U.S. 1, 57 S.Ct. 615, 81 L.Ed. 893, 108 A.L.R. 1352, and other cases rendered April 12, 1937. 1 Cir., 89 F.2d 1000. The District Court denied the motions to dismiss the bills. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp. v. Meyers, 15 F.Supp. 915. But the review by the Circuit Court of Appeals dealt only with the decrees for a preliminary injunction.

The two cases present, in the main, the same questions. In discussing them reference will be made, in the first instance, only to the suit brought by the corporation.

We are of opinion that the District Court was without power to enjoin the Board from holding the hearings.

First. There is no claim by the corporation that the statutory provisions and the rules of procedure prescribed for such hearings are illegal; or that the corporation was not accorded ample opportunity to answer the complaint of the Board; or that opportunity to introduce evidence on the allegations made will be denied. The claim is that the provisions of the act are not applicable to the corporation's business at the Fore River Plant, because the operations conducted there are not carried on, and the products manufactured are not sold, in interstate or foreign commerce; that, therefore, the corporation's relations with its employees at the plant cannot burden or interfere with such commerce; that hearings would, at best, be futile; and that the holding of them would result in irreparable damage to the corporation, not only by reason of their direct cost and the loss of time of its officials and employees, but also because the hearings would cause serious impairment of the good will and harmonious relations existing between the corporation

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and its employees, and thus seriously impair the efficiency of its operations.4

Second. The District Court is without jurisdiction to enjoin hearings because the power 'to prevent any person from engaging in any unfair practice affecting commerce' has been vested by Congress in the Board and the Circuit Court of Appeals, and Congress has declared: 'This power shall be exclusive, and shall not be affected by any other means of adjustment or prevention that has been or may be established by agreement, code, law, or otherwise.'5 The grant of that exclusive power is constitutional, because the act provided for appropriate procedure before the Board and in the review by the Circuit Court of Appeals an adequate opportunity to secure judicial protection against possible illegal action on the part of the Board. No power to enforce an order is conferred upon the Board. To secure enforcement, the Board must apply to a Circuit Court of Appeals for its affirmance. And, until the Board's order has been affirmed by the appropriate Circuit Court of Appeals, no penalty accrues for disobeying it. The independent right to apply to a Circuit Court of Appeals to have an order set aside

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is conferred upon any party aggrieved by the proceeding before the Board. The Board is even without power to enforce obedience to its subpoena to testify or to produce written evidence. To enforce obedience it must apply to a District Court; and to such an application appropriate defense may be made.6

As was said in National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U.S. 1, 46, 47, 57 S.Ct. 615, 628, 81 L.Ed. 893, 108 A.L.R. 1352, the procedural provisions 'do not offend against the constitutional...

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1417 practice notes
  • American Baptist Churches in the USA v. Meese, No. C-85-3255 RFP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • March 24, 1989
    ...for a supposed or threatened injury until the prescribed administrative remedy has been exhausted." Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 303 U.S. 41, 50-51, 58 S.Ct. 459, 463, 82 L.Ed. 638 (1938) (footnote omitted). The doctrine of exhaustion is intended to prevent premature judicial inte......
  • Lipscomb v. Federal Labor Relations Authority, No. Civ.A. 401CV158LN.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
    • December 19, 2001
    ...so that the claim was cognizable in the district court. 9. The Authority maintains that Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 303 U.S. 41, 50-51, 58 S.Ct. 459, 463-64, 82 L.Ed. 638 (1938), mandates a contrary result. The court is not persuaded. The Florida Board decision, rendered nearly 4......
  • United States v. Consolidated Mines & Smelting Co., Ltd., No. 25164
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • December 12, 1971
    ...that administrative remedies must be exhausted prior to judicial review of administrative action. Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 303 U.S. 41, 58 S.Ct. 459, 82 L.Ed. 638 (1938). But some care must be taken to distinguish between the different fact patterns to which the doctrine has b......
  • Marogi v. Jenifer, No. 00-CV-74443-DT.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • December 15, 2000
    ...itself." Howell v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 72 F.3d 288, 291 (2d Cir.1995) (citing Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 303 U.S. 41, 50-51, 58 S.Ct. 459, 82 L.Ed. 638 (1938)). The INS argues that this doctrine bars review of Marogi's habeas petition because either (1) he di......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1414 cases
  • American Baptist Churches in the USA v. Meese, No. C-85-3255 RFP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • March 24, 1989
    ...for a supposed or threatened injury until the prescribed administrative remedy has been exhausted." Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 303 U.S. 41, 50-51, 58 S.Ct. 459, 463, 82 L.Ed. 638 (1938) (footnote omitted). The doctrine of exhaustion is intended to prevent premature judicial inte......
  • Lipscomb v. Federal Labor Relations Authority, No. Civ.A. 401CV158LN.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
    • December 19, 2001
    ...so that the claim was cognizable in the district court. 9. The Authority maintains that Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 303 U.S. 41, 50-51, 58 S.Ct. 459, 463-64, 82 L.Ed. 638 (1938), mandates a contrary result. The court is not persuaded. The Florida Board decision, rendered nearly 4......
  • United States v. Consolidated Mines & Smelting Co., Ltd., No. 25164
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • December 12, 1971
    ...that administrative remedies must be exhausted prior to judicial review of administrative action. Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 303 U.S. 41, 58 S.Ct. 459, 82 L.Ed. 638 (1938). But some care must be taken to distinguish between the different fact patterns to which the doctrine has b......
  • Marogi v. Jenifer, No. 00-CV-74443-DT.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • December 15, 2000
    ...itself." Howell v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 72 F.3d 288, 291 (2d Cir.1995) (citing Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 303 U.S. 41, 50-51, 58 S.Ct. 459, 82 L.Ed. 638 (1938)). The INS argues that this doctrine bars review of Marogi's habeas petition because either (1) he di......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Table of authorities
    • United States
    • Introduction to environmental law: cases and materials on water pollution control - 2d Edition
    • July 23, 2017
    ...164 Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Mobile, 1998 WL 160820 (N.D.N.Y. 1998) ..........................223 Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 303 U.S. 41 (1938) ...................................... 154 National Ass’n of Home Builders v. Corps of Eng’rs, 417 F.3d 1272, 35 ELR 20157 (D.C. Cir. 20......
  • Introduction to the CWA and the administrative process
    • United States
    • Introduction to environmental law: cases and materials on water pollution control - 2d Edition
    • July 23, 2017
    ...the irst opportunity to address all issues, even challenges to the agency’s own jurisdiction. See Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp. , 303 U.S. 41 (1938). For example, if a respondent is summoned to appear before an agency on charges of violating agency standards, judicial review of thos......
  • Administering the National Environmental Policy Act
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Reporter Nbr. 45-4, April 2015
    • April 1, 2015
    ...that the Supreme Court had been helping to establish for years before the APA was enacted. See e.g. , Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbldg. Corp., 303 U.S. 41, 47-50 (1938); see also Dickinson, supra note 47, at 50. 65. Although the agency’s enabling statute determines what type of hearing must be a......

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