William Adair v. United States, No. 293

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHarlan
Citation52 L.Ed. 436,28 S.Ct. 277,208 U.S. 161
PartiesWILLIAM ADAIR, Plff. in Err., v. UNITED STATES
Decision Date27 January 1908
Docket NumberNo. 293

208 U.S. 161
28 S.Ct. 277
52 L.Ed. 436
WILLIAM ADAIR, Plff. in Err.,

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 293.
Argued October 29, 30, 1907.
Decided January 27, 1908.

Page 162

Messrs. Benjamin D. Warfield and Henry L. Stone for plaintiff in error.

[Argument of Counsel from page 162 intentionally omitted]

Page 163

Attorney General Bonaparte and Mr. William R. Harr for defendant in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 163-166 intentionally omitted]

Page 166

Mr. Justice Harlan delivered the opinion of the court:

This case involves the constitutionality of certain provisions of the act of Congress of June 1st, 1898 (30 Stat. at L. 424, chap. 370, U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 3205),

Page 167

concerning carriers engaged in interstate commerce and their employees.

By the 1st section of the act it is provoided: 'That the provisions of this act shall apply to any common carrier or carriers and their officers, agents, and employees, except masters of vessels and seamen, as defined in section 4612, Revised Statutes of the United States (U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 3120), engaged in the transportation of passengers or property wholly by railroad, or partly by railroad and partly by water, for a continuous carriage or shipment from one state or territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia, to any other state or territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia, or from any place in the United States to an adjacent foreign country, or from any place in the United States through a foreign country to any other place in the United States. The term 'railroad,' as used in this act, shall include all bridges and ferries used or operated in connection with any railroad, and also all the road in use by any corporation operating a railroad, whether owned or operated under a contract, agreement, or lease; and the term 'transportation' shall include all instrumentalities of shipment or carriage. The term 'employees,' as used in this act, shall include all persons actually engaged in any capacity in train operation or train service of any description, and notwithstanding that the cars upon or in which they are employed may be held and operated by the carrier under lease or other contract: Provided, however, That this act shall not be held to apply to employees of street railroads, and shall apply only to employees engaged in railroad train service. In every such case the carrier shall be responsible for the acts and defaults of such employees, in the same manner and to the same extent as if said cars were owned by it and said employees directly employed by it, and any provisions to the contrary of any such lease or other contract shall be binding only as between the parties thereto, and shall not affect the obligations of said carrier either to the public or to the private parties concerned.'

Page 168

The 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th sections relate to the settlement, by means of arbitration, of controversies concerning wages, hours of labor, or conditions of employment, arising between a carrier subject to the provisions of the act and its employees, which seriously interrupt, or threaten to interrupt, the business of the carrier. Those sections prescribe the mode in which controversies may be brought under the cognizance of arbitrators, in what way the arbitrators may be designated, and the effect of their decisions. The first subdivision of § 3 contains a proviso 'that no employee shall be compelled to render personal service without his consent.'

The 11th section relates to the compensation and expenses of the arbitrators.

By the 12th section the act of Congress of October 1st, 1888 [25 Stat. at L. 501, chap. 1063], creating boards of arbitrators or commissioners for settling controversies and differences between railroad corporations and other common carriers engaged in interstate or territorial transportation of persons or property and their employees, was repealed.

The 10th section, upon which the present prosecution is based, is in these words:

'That any employers subject to the provisions of this act, and any officer, agent, or receiver of such employer, who shall require any employee, or any person seeking employment, as a condition of such employment, to enter into an agreement, either written or verbal, not to become or remain a member of any labor corporation, association, or organization; or shall threaten any employee with loss of employment, or shall unjustly discriminate against any employee because of his membership in such a labor corporation, association, or organization; who shall require any employee or any person seeking employment, as a condition of such employment, to enter into a contract whereby such employee or applicant for employment shall agree to contribute to any fund for charitable, social, or beneficial purposes; to release such employer from legal liability for any personal injury by reason of any benefit received from

Page 169

such fund beyond the proportion of the benefit arising from the employer's contribution to such fund; or who shall, after having discharged an employee, attempt or conspire to prevent such employee from obtaining employment, or who shall, after the quitting of an employee, attempt or conspire to prevent such employee from obtaining employment, is hereby declared to be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof in any court of the United States of competent jurisdiction in the district in which such offense was committed, shall be punished for each offense by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars and not more than one thousand dollars.'

It may be observed in passing that while that section makes it a crime against the United States to unjustly discriminate against an employee of an interstate carrier because of his being a member of a labor organization, it does not make it a crime to unjustly discriminate against an employee of the carrier because of his not being a member of such an organization.

The present indictment was in the district court of the United States for the Eastern district of Kentucky against the defendant, Adair.

The first count alleged 'that at and before the time hereinafter named the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company is and was a railroad corporation, duly organized and existing by law, and a common carrier engaged in the transportation of passengers and property wholly by steam railroad for a continuous carriage and shipment from one state of the United States to another state of the United States of America; that is to say, from the state of Kentucky into the States of Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee, and from the state of Ohio into the state of Kentucky, and was, at all times aforesaid, and at the time of the commission of the offense hereinafter named, a common carrier of interstate commerce, and an employer, subject to the provisions of a certain act of Congress of the United States of America, entitled, 'An Act Concerning Carriers Engaged in Interstate Commerce and Their Employees,' approved June 1st, 1898, and said corporation was not at any

Page 170

time a street railroad corporation. That before and at the time of the commission of the offense hereinafter named one William Adair was an agent and employee of said common carrier and employer, and was, at all said times, master mechanic of said common carrier and employer in the district aforesaid, and before and at the time hereinafter stated one O. B. Coppage was an employee of said common carrier and employer in the district aforesaid, and as such employee was, at all times hereinafter named, actually engaged in the capacity of locomotive fireman in train operation and train service for said common carrier and employer in the transportation of passengers and property aforesaid, and was an employee of said common carrier and employer actually engaged in said railroad transportation and train service aforesaid, to whom the provisions of said act applied, and at the time of the commission of the offense hereinafter named said O. B. Coppage was a member of a certain labor organization, known as the Order of Locomotive Firemen, as he, the said William Adair, then and there well knew; a more particular description of said organization and the members thereof is to the grand jurors unknown.'

The specific charge in that count was 'that said William Adair, agent and employee of said common carrier and employer. as aforesaid, in the district aforesaid, on and before the 15th day of October, 1906, did unlawfully and unjustly discriminate against said O. B. Coppage, employee, as aforesaid, by then and there discharging said O. B. Coppage from such employment of said common carrier and employer, because of his membership in said labor organization, and thereby did unjustly discriminate against an employee of a common carrier and employer engaged in interstate commerce because of his membership in a labor organization, contrary to the forms of the statute in such cases made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the United States.'

The second count repeated the general allegations of the first count as to the character of the business of the Louisville

Page 171

& Nashville Railroad Company and the relations between that corporation and Adair and Coppage. It charged 'that said William Adair, in the district aforesaid, and within the jurisdiction of this court, agent and employee of said common carrier and employer aforesaid, on and before the 15th day of October, 1906, did unlawfully threaten said O. B. Coppage, employee as aforesaid, with loss of employment, because of his membership in said labor organization, contrary to the forms of the statute in such cases made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the United States.'

The accused, Adair, demurred to the indictment as insufficient in law, but the demurrer was overruled. After reviewing the authorities, in an elaborate...

To continue reading

Request your trial
277 practice notes
  • State v. United States Dep't of Health, Nos. 11–11021
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • August 12, 2011
    ...of contract. See, e.g., Adkins v. Children's Hosp. of D.C., 261 U.S. 525, 545, 43 S.Ct. 394, 67 L.Ed. 785 (1923); Adair v. United States, 208 U.S. 161, 174–75, 28 S.Ct. 277, 52 L.Ed. 436 (1908). Through this interpretation of the Due Process Clause, the Supreme Court struck down many federa......
  • Eastern Enterprises v. Apfel, 9742
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 25, 1998
    ...(1949) (repudiating the "Allgeyer [v. Louisiana, 165 U.S. 578, 17 S.Ct. 427, 41 L.Ed. 832 (1897)] -Lochner -Adair [v. United States, 208 U.S. 161, 28 S.Ct. 277, 52 L.Ed. 436 (1908)] -Coppage [v. Kansas, 236 U.S. 1, 35 S.Ct. 240, 59 L.Ed. 441 (1915)] constitutional doctrine''). As the p......
  • United States v. Seven Oaks Dairy Co., No. 4068
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • May 17, 1935
    ...37 L. Ed. 463; United States v. Joint Traffic Association, 171 U. S. 505, 571, 572, 19 S. Ct. 25, 43 L. Ed. 259; Adair v. United States, 208 U. S. 161, 180, 28 S. Ct. 277, 52 L. Ed. 436, 13 Ann. Cas. 764. Both the liberty of contract and the right to property here are Another cardinal rule ......
  • International Association of Machinists v. Street, No. 4
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 19, 1961
    ...the evils of these agreements. Is it any more consonant with the facts of life today, than was this holding in Adair v. United States, 208 U.S. 161, 28 S.Ct. 277, 52 L.Ed. 436, to say that the tax policies of the National Government the scheme of rates and exemptions—have no close relation ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
272 cases
  • State v. United States Dep't of Health, Nos. 11–11021
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • August 12, 2011
    ...of contract. See, e.g., Adkins v. Children's Hosp. of D.C., 261 U.S. 525, 545, 43 S.Ct. 394, 67 L.Ed. 785 (1923); Adair v. United States, 208 U.S. 161, 174–75, 28 S.Ct. 277, 52 L.Ed. 436 (1908). Through this interpretation of the Due Process Clause, the Supreme Court struck down many federa......
  • Eastern Enterprises v. Apfel, 9742
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 25, 1998
    ...212 (1949) (repudiating the "Allgeyer [v. Louisiana, 165 U.S. 578, 17 S.Ct. 427, 41 L.Ed. 832 (1897)] -Lochner -Adair [v. United States, 208 U.S. 161, 28 S.Ct. 277, 52 L.Ed. 436 (1908)] -Coppage [v. Kansas, 236 U.S. 1, 35 S.Ct. 240, 59 L.Ed. 441 (1915)] constitutional doctrine''). As the pl......
  • United States v. Seven Oaks Dairy Co., No. 4068
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • May 17, 1935
    ...37 L. Ed. 463; United States v. Joint Traffic Association, 171 U. S. 505, 571, 572, 19 S. Ct. 25, 43 L. Ed. 259; Adair v. United States, 208 U. S. 161, 180, 28 S. Ct. 277, 52 L. Ed. 436, 13 Ann. Cas. 764. Both the liberty of contract and the right to property here are Another cardinal rule ......
  • International Association of Machinists v. Street, No. 4
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 19, 1961
    ...the evils of these agreements. Is it any more consonant with the facts of life today, than was this holding in Adair v. United States, 208 U.S. 161, 28 S.Ct. 277, 52 L.Ed. 436, to say that the tax policies of the National Government the scheme of rates and exemptions—have no close relation ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4 books & journal articles
  • Capitalist Development, Labor Law, and the New Working Class.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 Nbr. 6, April 2022
    • April 1, 2022
    ...regarding the relation between an employer and its employees ... gives American labor law much of its distinctive character"). (194.) 208 U.S. 161,174-75 (195.) As deindustrialization and the service transition led to union collapse, workers and employment lawyers pressed courts and state l......
  • Constituting Workers, Protecting Women: Gender, Law, and Labor in the Progressive Era and New Deal Years.
    • United States
    • Michigan Law Review Vol. 101 Nbr. 6, May 2003
    • May 1, 2003
    ...of contract was a fundamental right that should be protected from arbitrary government regulations. See, e.g., Adair v. United States, 208 U.S. 161 (1908) (Harlan, J.) (invalidating a federal law prohibiting the enforcement of "yellow dog" contracts). He was moderate in the sense that he ge......
  • Evolution of American Labor
    • United States
    • ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, The Nbr. 274-1, March 1951
    • March 1, 1951
    ...of insurance against populistic, antimonopoly character, those labor’s major risks. Early attempts of Congress and the 6 Adair v. U. S., 208 U. S. 161 (1908); Cop- state legislatures to prevent discrimina- page v. Kansas, 236 U. S. 1 (1915). 7 N.L.R.B. v. Jones-Laughlin, 301 U. S. 1 tion ag......
  • Federal Protection of Labor
    • United States
    • ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, The Nbr. 224-1, November 1942
    • November 1, 1942
    ...Labor Information Bulletin, Bureau of La- The exigencies of World War I af- bor Statistics, U. S. Department of Labor,June 1942, p. 1. 4 208 U. S. 161 In 1917 there were 4,450 strikes involv- 5 30 Stat. 428. ing 1,220,000 workers. In 1918 there were 6 236 U. S. 1 (1915). 3,353 strikes invol......

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