Truax v. Corrigan

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Citation257 U.S. 312,66 L.Ed. 254,42 S.Ct. 124,27 A.L.R. 375
Docket NumberNo. 13,13
PartiesTRUAX et al. v. CORRIGAN et al. Re
Decision Date19 December 1921

[Syllabus from pages 312-314 intentionally omitted] Messrs. Clifton Mathews, of Globe, Ariz., and E. E. Ellinwood and John Mason Ross, both of Bisbee, Ariz., for plaintiffs in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 314-317 intentionally omitted] Messrs. Jackson H. Ralston, of Washington, D. C., Wiley E. Jones, of Phoenix, Ariz., and Samuel Herrick, of Washington, D. C., for defendants in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 317-320 intentionally omitted] Mr. Chief Justice TAFT delivered the opinion of the Court.

The plaintiffs in error, who were plaintiffs below, and will be so called, own, maintain and operate, on Main street, in the city of Bisbee, Ariz., a restaurant, known as the 'English Kitchen.' The defendants are cooks and waiters formerly in the employ of the plaintiffs, together with the labor union and the trades assembly of which they were members. All parties are residents of the state of Arizona.

The complaint set out the following case:

In April, 1916, a dispute arose between the plaintiffs and the defendants' union concerning the terms and conditions of employment of the members of the union. The plaintiffs refused to yield to the terms of the union, which thereupon ordered a strike of those of its members who were in plaintiffs' employ. To win the strike, and to coerce and compel the plaintiffs to comply with the demands of the union, the defendants and others unknown to the plaintiffs entered into a conspiracy and boycott to injure plaintiffs in their restaurant and restaurant business, by inducing plaintiffs' customers and others, theretofore well and favorably disposed, to cease to patronize or trade with the plaintiffs. The method of inducing was set out at length, and included picketing, displaying banners, advertising the strike, denouncing plaintiffs as 'unfair' to the union, and appealing to customers to stay away from the 'English Kitchen,' and the circulation of handbills containing abusive and libelous charges against plaintiffs, their employees, and their patrons, and intimations of injury to future patrons. Copies of the handbills were set forth in exhibits made part of the complaint.

In consequence of defendants' acts, many customers were induced to cease from patronizing plaintiffs, and their daily receipts, which had been in excess of the sum of $156 were reduced to $75. The complaint averred that if the acts were continued, the business would be entirely destroyed, and that the plaintiffs would suffer great and irreparable injury; that for the plaintiffs to seek to recover damages would involve a multiplicity of suits; that all the defendants were insolvent, and would be unable to respond in damages for any injury resulting from their acts, and the plaintiffs were therefore without any adequate remedy at law.

The complaint further averred that the defendants were relying for immunity on paragraph 1464 of the Revised Statutes of Arizona of 1913 (Civ. Code), which is in part as follows:

'No restraining order or injunction shall be granted by any court of this state, or a judge or the judges thereof, in any case between an employer and employees, or between employers and employees, or between employees, or between persons employed and persons seeking employment, involving or growing out of a dispute concerning terms or conditions of employment, unless necessary to prevent irreparable injury to property or to a property right of the party making the application, for which unjury there is no adequate remedy at law, and such property or property right must be described with particularity in the application, which must be in writing and sworn to by the applicant or by his agent or attorney.

'And no such restraining order or injunction shall prohibit any person or persons from terminating any relation of employment, or from ceasing to perform any work or labor, or from recommending, advising, or persuading others by peaceful means so to do; or from attending at or near a house or place where any person resides or works, or carries on business, or happens to be for the purpose of peacefully obtaining or communicating information, or of peacefully persuading any person, to work or to abstain from working; or from ceasing to patronize or to employ any party to such dispute; or from recommending, advising, or persuading others by peaceful means so to do. * * *'

The plaintiffs alleged that this paragraph, if it made lawful defendants' acts, contravened the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States by depriving plaintiffs of their property without due process of law, and by denying to plaintiffs the equal protection of the laws, and was therefore void and of no effect. Upon the case thus stated the plaintiffs asked a temporary and a permanent injunction.

The defendants filed a demurrer, on two grounds: First, that the complaint did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action, in that the property rights asserted therein were not, under paragraph 1464, Revised Statutes of Arizona of 1913, of such character that their irreparable injury might be enjoined; and, secondly, that upon its face the complaint showed a want of equity.

The superior court for Cochise county sustained the demurrer and dismissed the complaint, and this judgment was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Arizona.

The ruling of the Supreme Court proceeded, first, on the assumption that the gravamen of the complaint was that the defendants were merely inducing patrons to cease their patronage by making public the fact of the dispute and the attitude of plaintiffs in it; and secondly, on the proposition that, while good will is a valuable factor in business success, 'no man has a vested right in the esteem of the public'—that, while the plaintiff had a clear right to refuse the demand of the union, the union had a right to advertise the cause of the strike. The court held that the purpose of paragraph 1464 was to recognize the right of workmen on a strike to use peaceable means to accomplish the lawful ends for which the strike was called; that picketing, if peaceably carried on for a lawful purpose, was no violation of the rights of the person whose place of business was picketed; that prior to the enactment of paragraph 1464, picketing was unlawful in Arizona, because it was presumed to induce breaches of the peace, but that plaintiffs had no vested right to have such a rule of law continue in that state; that under paragraph 1464 picketing was no longer conclusively presumed to be unlawful; that the paragraph simply dealt with a rule of evidence requiring the courts to substitute evidence of the nature of the act for the presumption otherwise arising; that the plaintiffs' property rights were not invaded by picketing, unless the picketing interfered with the free conduct of the business; that plaintiffs did not claim that defendants had by violent means invaded their rights; and that, if that kind of picketing were charged and established by proof, plaintiffs would be entitled to relief to the extent of prohibiting violence in any from.

The effect of this ruling is that, under the statute, loss may be inflicted upon the plaintiffs' property and business by 'picketing' in any form if violence be not used, and that because no violence was shown or claimed, the campaign carried on, as described in the complaint and exhibits, did not unlawfully invade complainants' rights.

The facts alleged are admitted by the demurrer, and, in determining their legal effect as a deprivation of plaintiffs' legal rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, we are at as full liberty to consider them as was the state Supreme Court. McKay v. Dillon, 4 How. 431, 11 L. Ed. 1038; Dower v. Richards, 151 U. S. 658, 667, 14 Sup. Ct. 452, 38 L. Ed. 305. Nor does the court's declaration that the statute is a rule of evidence bind us in such an investigation. Bailey v. Alabama, 219 U. S. 219, 238, 239, 31 Sup. Ct. 145, 55 L. Ed. 191; Chicago Railway Co. v. Minnesota, 134 U. S. 418, 10 Sup. Ct. 702, 33 L. Ed. 970; Mugler v. Kansas, 123 U. S. 623, 661, 8 Sup. Ct. 273, 31 L. Ed. 205; Corn Products Refining Co. v. Eddy, 249 U. S. 427, 432, 39 Sup. Ct. 325, 63 L. Ed. 689. In cases brought to this court from state courts for review, on the ground that a federal right set up in the state court has been wrongly denied, and in which the state court has put its decision on a finding that the asserted federal right has no basis in point of fact, or has been waived or lost, this court, as an incident of its power to determine whether a federal right has been wrongly denied, may go behind the finding to see whether it is without substantial support. If the rule were otherwise, it almost always would be within the power of a state court practically to prevent a review here. Kansas City Southern Ry. Co. v. Albers Commission Co., 223 U. S. 573, 591, 593, 32 Sup. Ct. 316, 56 L. Ed. 556; Cedar Rapids Gas Co. v. Cedar Rapids, 223 U. S. 655, 688 669, 32 Sup. Ct. 389, 56 L. Ed. 594; Southern Pacific Co. v. Schuyler, 227 U. S. 601, 611, 33 Sup. Ct. 277, 57 L. Ed. 662, 43 L. R. A. (N. S.) 901. Another class of cases in which this court will review the finding of the court as to the facts is when the conclusion of law and findings of fact are so intermingled as to make it necessary, in order to pass upon the question to analyze the facts. Northern Pacific Ry. Co. v. North Dakota, 236 U. S. 585, 593, 35 Sup. Ct. 429, 59 L. Ed. 735, L. R. A. 1917F, 1148, Ann. Cas. 1916A, 1; Jones National Bank v. Yates, 240 U. S. 541, 552, 553, 36 Sup. Ct. 429, 60 L. Ed. 788. In view of these decisions and the grounds upon which they proceed, it is clear that in a case like the present, where the issue is whether a state statute in its application to facts which are set out in detail in the pleadings and are admitted by...

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