United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local 610 v. Scott, AFL-CIO

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtJustice BLACKMUN, with whom Justice BRENNAN
Citation463 U.S. 825,77 L.Ed.2d 1049,103 S.Ct. 3352
PartiesUNITED BROTHERHOOD OF CARPENTERS AND JOINERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL 610,, et al., Petitioners, v. Paul E. SCOTT et al
Docket NumberAFL-CIO,No. 82-486
Decision Date05 July 1983

463 U.S. 825
103 S.Ct. 3352
77 L.Ed.2d 1049
UNITED BROTHERHOOD OF CARPENTERS AND JOINERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL 610, AFL-CIO, et al., Petitioners,

v.

Paul E. SCOTT et al.

No. 82-486.
Argued April 26, 1983.
Decided July 5, 1983.
Syllabus

Respondent constru tion company hired nonunion workers for a project near Port Arthur, Tex., and a citizen protest against the company's hiring practice was organized at a meeting held by the Executive Committee of the Sabine Area Building and Construction Trades Council. During the protest at the construction site, company employees (including the two individual respondents) were assaulted and beaten and construction equipment was burned and destroyed. The violence and vandalism delayed construction and led the company to default on its contract. In their action in Federal District Court against petitioners—the Sabine Area Building and Construction Trades Council and certain local unions and individuals—respondents asserted that petitioners had conspired to deprive respondents of their legally protected rights, contrary to the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) (1976 ed., Supp. V) making available a cause of action to those injured by conspiracies formed "for the purpose of depriving, either directly or indirectly, any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws." The District Court entered judgment for respondents, granting injunctive relief and awarding damages. The Court of Appeals affirmed in pertinent part, holding that the purpose of the conspiracy was to deprive respondents of their First Amendment right not to associate with a union, that for purposes of § 1985(3) it was not necessary to show some state involvement in the infringement of First Amendment rights, and that § 1985(3) reaches conspiracies motivated by political or economic bias as well as those motivated by racial bias, thus including the conspiracy to harm the nonunion employees of the nonunion contractor.

Held: An alleged conspiracy to infringe First Amendment rights is not a violation of § 1985(3) unless it is proved that the State is involved in the conspiracy or the aim of the conspiracy is to influence the activity of the State. Moreover, the kind of animus that § 1985(3) requires is not present in this case. Pp. 830-839.

(a) Griffin v. Breckenridge, 403 U.S. 88, 91 S.Ct. 1790, 29 L.Ed.2d 338, upheld the application of § 1985(3) to purely private conspiracies aimed at interfering with rights

Page 826

constitutionally protected against private as well as official encroachment, such as the rights involved in that case—the right to travel and Thirteenth Amendment Rights. However, Griffin did not hold or declare that when the alleged conspiracy is aimed at a right that is by definition only a right against state interference, such as First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, the plaintiff in a § 1985(3) suit nevertheless need not prove that the conspiracy contemplated state involvement of some sort. Pp. 831-834.

(b) The language and legislative history of § 1985(3) establishes that it requires "some racial, or perhaps otherwise class-based, invidiously discriminatory animus behind the conspirators' action." Griffin, supra, at 102, 91 S.Ct., at 1798. Pp. 834-835.

(c) Though the predominant purpose of § 1985(3) was to combat the then-prevalent animus against Negroes and their supporters, it is not necessary to determine here whether § 1985(3) must be construed to reach only cases involving racial bias. Pp. 835-837.

(d) Even if it is assumed that § 1985(3) is to be construed to reach conspiracies aimed at any class or organization on account of its political views or activities, the provision does not reach conspiracies motivated by bias towards others on account of their economic views, status, or activities. Neither the language nor the legislative history of § 1985(3) compels a construction that would include group action resting on economic or commercial animus, such as animus in favor of or against unionization. Pp. 837-839.

680 F.2d 979 (5th Cir. 1982), reversed.

Laurence Gold, Washington, D.C., for petitioners.

Robert Q. Keith, Beaumont, Tex., for respondents.

Page 827

This case concerns the scope of the cause of action m

ade available by 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) (Supp.1981) 1 to those injured by conspiracies formed "for the purpose of depriving, either directly or indirectly, any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws."

I

A.A. Cross Construction Co., Inc. (Cross), contracted with the Department of the Army to construct the Alligator Bayou Pumping Station and Gravity Drainage Structure on the Taylor Bayou Hurricane Levee near Port Arthur, Texas. In accordance with its usual practice, Cross hired workers for the project without regard to union membership. Some of them were from outside the Port Arthur area. Employees

Page 828

of Cross were several times warned by local residents that Cross's practice of hiring non-union workers was a matter of serious concern to many in the area and that it could lead to trouble. According to the District Court, the evidence showed that at a January 15, 1975, meeting of the Executive Committee of the Sabine Area Building and Construction Trades Council a citizen protest against Cross's hiring practices was discussed and a time and place for the protest were chosen. On the morning of January 17, a large group assembled at the entrance to the Alligator Bayou construction site. In the group were union members present at the January 15 meeting. From this gathering several truckloads of men emerged, drove on to the construction site, assaulted and beat Cross employees, and burned and destroyed construction equipment. The District Court found that continued violence was threatened "if the nonunion workers did not leave the area or concede to union policies and principles." 461 F.Supp. 224, 227 (E.D.Tex.1978). The violence and vandalism delayed construction and led Cross to default on its contract with the Army.

The plaintiffs in this case, after amendment of the complaint, were respondents Scott and Matthews—two Cross employees who had been beaten, and the company itself. The Sabine Area Building and Trades Council, 25 local unions, and various individuals were named as defendants. Plaintiffs asserted that defendants had conspired to deprive plaintiffs of their legally protected rights, contrary to 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) (Supp.1981). The case was tried to the court. A permanent injunction was entered, and damages were awar ed against 11 of the local unions, $5000 each to the individual plaintiffs and $112,385.14 to Cross, plus attorneys fees in the amount of $25,000.

In arriving at its judgment, the District Court recognized that to make out a violation of § 1985(3), as construed in Griffin v. Breckenridge, 403 U.S. 88, 102-103, 91 S.Ct. 1790, 1798, 29 L.Ed.2d 338 (1971), the plaintiff must allege and prove four elements: (1) a conspiracy;

Page 829

(2) for the purpose of depriving, either directly or indirectly, any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws; and (3) an act in furtherance of the conspiracy; (4) whereby a person is either injured in his person or property or deprived of any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States. The District Court found that the first, third, and fourth of these elements were plainly established. The issue, the District Court thought, concerned the second element, for in construing that requirement in Griffin, we held that the conspiracy not only must have as its purpose the deprivation of "equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws," but also must be motivated by "some racial, or perhaps otherwise class-based, invidiously discriminatory animus behind the conspirators' action." 403 U.S., at 102, 91 S.Ct., at 1798. Griffin having involved racial animus and interference with rights that Congress could unquestionably protect against private conspiracies, the issue the District Court identified was whether private conspiratorial discrimination against employees of a non-unionized entity is the kind of conduct that triggers the proscription of § 1985(3). The District Court concluded that the conspiracy encompassed violations of both the civil and criminal laws of the state of Texas, thus depriving plaintiff of the protections afforded by those laws, that § 1985(3) proscribes class-based animus other than racial bias, and that the class of non-union laborers and employers is a protected class under the section. The District Court believed that "men and women have the right to associate or not to associate with any group or class of individuals, and concomitantly, to be free of violent acts against their bodies and property because of such association or non-association." 461 F.Supp., at 230. The conduct evidenced a discriminatory animus against non-union workers hence, there had been a violation of the federal law.

The Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, except for setting aside for failure of proof the judgment against eight of the eleven local

Page 830

unions, affirmed the judgment of the District Court. 680 F.2d 979 (CA 5 1982). The Court of Appeals understood respondents' submission to be that petitioners' conspiracy was aimed at depriving respondents of their First Amendment right to associate with their fellow non-union employees and that this curtailment was a deprivation of the equal protection of the laws within the meaning of § 1985(3). The Court of Appeals agreed, for the most part, holding that the purpose of the conspiracy was to deprive plaintiffs of their First Amendment right not to associate with a union. The court rejected the argument that it was necessary to show some state involvement to demonstrate an...

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1646 practice notes
  • Burrell v. City University of New York, No. 94 CIV. 8711(RWS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • February 26, 1998
    ...v. Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp., 7 F.3d 1085, 1087 (2d Cir.1993) (citing United Bhd. of Carpenters, Local 610 v. Scott, 463 U.S. 825, 828-29, 103 S.Ct. 3352, 77 L.Ed.2d 1049 (1983)). A conspiracy is an agreement between two or more individuals, where one individual acts in ......
  • Craig v. Cohn, No. 3:99-CV-0689 AS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • January 7, 2000
    ...action." Peavey v. Polytechnic Institute of New York, 775 F.Supp. 75 at 79, citing United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners v. Scott, 463 U.S. 825, 103 S.Ct. 3352, 77 L.Ed.2d 1049 (1983). Giving the plaintiffs the benefit of the inferences to which they are entitled at the screening stage......
  • Jihad v. Comm'r Joan Fabian, Civil No. 09-1604 (DSD/RLE).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
    • January 21, 2010
    ...stand-alone right. The source of the right or law must be found elsewhere. United Bhd. Of Carpenters and Joiners of Am. v. Scott, 463 U.S. 825, 833, S.Ct. 3352, 77 L.Ed.2d 1049 (1983); Great Am. Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n. v. Novotny, 442 U.S. 366, 376, 99 S.Ct. 2345, 60 L.Ed.2d 957 (1979). Id.......
  • Hamilton v. Dist. Of D.C., Civil Action No. 09-0892 (JDB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • July 6, 2010
    ...or property or deprived of any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States. 1 See United Bhd. of Carpenters & Joiners v. Scott, 463 U.S. 825, 828-29, 103 S.Ct. 3352, 77 L.Ed.2d 1049 (1983). The conspiracy, moreover, must be motivated by invidious, class-based animus to impose § 198......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1651 cases
  • Burrell v. City University of New York, No. 94 CIV. 8711(RWS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • February 26, 1998
    ...v. Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp., 7 F.3d 1085, 1087 (2d Cir.1993) (citing United Bhd. of Carpenters, Local 610 v. Scott, 463 U.S. 825, 828-29, 103 S.Ct. 3352, 77 L.Ed.2d 1049 (1983)). A conspiracy is an agreement between two or more individuals, where one individual acts in ......
  • Craig v. Cohn, No. 3:99-CV-0689 AS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • January 7, 2000
    ...action." Peavey v. Polytechnic Institute of New York, 775 F.Supp. 75 at 79, citing United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners v. Scott, 463 U.S. 825, 103 S.Ct. 3352, 77 L.Ed.2d 1049 (1983). Giving the plaintiffs the benefit of the inferences to which they are entitled at the screening stage......
  • Jihad v. Comm'r Joan Fabian, Civil No. 09-1604 (DSD/RLE).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
    • January 21, 2010
    ...stand-alone right. The source of the right or law must be found elsewhere. United Bhd. Of Carpenters and Joiners of Am. v. Scott, 463 U.S. 825, 833, S.Ct. 3352, 77 L.Ed.2d 1049 (1983); Great Am. Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n. v. Novotny, 442 U.S. 366, 376, 99 S.Ct. 2345, 60 L.Ed.2d 957 (1979). Id.......
  • Hamilton v. Dist. Of D.C., Civil Action No. 09-0892 (JDB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • July 6, 2010
    ...or property or deprived of any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States. 1 See United Bhd. of Carpenters & Joiners v. Scott, 463 U.S. 825, 828-29, 103 S.Ct. 3352, 77 L.Ed.2d 1049 (1983). The conspiracy, moreover, must be motivated by invidious, class-based animus to impose § 198......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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