Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

PITNEY, MCKENNA, and VAN DEVANTER, JJ., dissenting. 214 U. S.

in the mi me of the United States.

Possibly the thought of Congress was that by such a limitation upon suits in equity of a general nature to restrain violations of the act, irrespective of any direct injury sustained by particular persons or corpora ions, interstate and international trade and commerce and those carrying on such trade and commerce, as well as the general business of the country, would not be needlessly disturbed by suits brought, on all sides and in every direction, to accomplish improper or speculative purposes.” [Italics mine.] The reasoning manifestly proceeds upon the assumption that individuals sustaining direct and irreparable injury through a continuing violation of the act would be entitled to an injunction.

Wilder Mfg. Co. v. Corn Products Refining Co., 236 U. S. 165, 174, 175, is not in point. There plaintiff in error, which had purchased, received, and consumed goods from defendant in error, defended a suit for the price upon the ground that defendant in error was an illegal combination in violation of the Sherman Act, and there fore could not sue to recover for goods sold with direct reference to and in execution of agreements that had for their object and effect the accomplishment of the illegal purposes of the combination. The court held that an individual could not defend a suit brought against him on his otherwise legal contract by asserting that the corporation or combination suing had no legal existence because of its violations of the act, the statute having cast upon the Attorney General of the United States the responsibility of enforcing its provisions in that regard.

The question whether private parties threatened with injury through violations of the Sherman Act might (prior to the Clayton Act of October 15, 1914, c. 323, $ 16, 38 Stat. 730, 737) have relief by injunction is one upon which the lower federal courts are not in accord. In the present case, the District Court, in dismissing the bill upon the

244 U.S. PITNEY, MCKENNA, and VAN DEVANTER, JJ., dissenting.

ground that relief by injunction might be had only at the instance of the United States (212 Fed. Rep. 259, 266), merely cited and relied upon National Fireproofing Co. v. Mason Builders' Association, 169 Fed. Rep. 259, 263. That case was decided upon the authority of Greer v. Stoller, 77 Fed. Rep. 1, 3, and Southern Indiana Exp. Co. v. United States Exp. Co., 88 Fed. Rep. 659, 663. Reference was made also to Bement v. National Harrow Co., 186 U. S. 70, 87, 88, where the point was assumed arguendo; Post v. Railroad, 103 Tennessee, 184, 228, where it was ruled on the authority of 86 Fed. Rep. 407 and 88 Fed. Rep. 659, 663; and the following cases in the federal courts: Blindell v. Hagan (C. C.), 54 Fed. Rep. 40, 41; Hagan v. Blindell (C. C. A.), 56 Fed. Rep. 696; Pidcock v. Harrington (C. C.), 64 Fed. Rep. 821; Gulf &c. R. Co. v. Miami Steamship Co. (C. C. A.), 86 Fed. Rep. 407, 420; Block v. Standard Distilling &c. Co. (C. C.), 95 Fed. Rep. 978; and Metcalf v. American School-Furniture Co. (C. C.), 108 Fed. Rep. 909. An examination of these cases (including Greer v. Stoller and Southern Indiana Exp. Co. v. United States Exp. Co., supra) discloses that Blindell v. Hagan, 54 Fed. Rep. 40, 41, is the source from which all the others derive the only authority they have for the doctrine that under the Sherman Act the remedy by injunction was available to the Government only. But one or two of the cases contain any reasoning upon the question, and that is meager and unsatisfactory.

Moreover, so far as these cases have held that private parties could have no injunction for a violation of the Sherman Act (some of them have not so held), the real ground of decision in Blindell v. Hagan was misunderstood. In that case the jurisdiction of the federal court was invoked upon the ground of the alienage of complainants, defendants being citizens of the State of Louisiana, and also upon the ground that defendants were engaged in a combination in restraint of trade between New Orleans

PITNEY, MCKENNA, and VAN DEVANTER, JJ., dissenting. 244 U.S.

and Liverpool, contrary to the prohibition of the Sherman Act. The Circuit Court, in declining to allow an injunction under the act, said: “This act makes all combinations in restraint of trade or commerce unlawful, and punishes them by fine or imprisonment, and authorizes suits at law for triple damages for its violation, but it gives no new right to bring a suit in equity, and a careful study of the act has brought me to the conclusion that suits in equity or injunction suits by any other than the government of the United States are not authorized by it.” Evidently this was intended to be confined to the question of an express authorization of an injunction for a mere violation of the act, for the court proceeded to grant preventive relief on the ground that there was jurisdiction because of the citizenship of the parties, and that under the ordinary equity jurisdiction an injunction should issue because of the threatened irreparable injury and the inadequacy of pecuniary compensation, and in order to prevent a multiplicity of suits. Upon appeal the decree was affirmed, upon the grounds expressed by the court below, 56 Fed. Rep. 696. Since there was no infringement of complainants' rights except through a combination in restraint of foreign trade, as to which manifestly the Sherman Act furnished the exclusive rule of law, the effect of the decision is to allow an injunction to one injured through a violation of that act if he show in addition the ordinary grounds for resorting to equity, such as the probability of irreparable mischief, the inadequacy of a pecuniary compensation, or the necessity of preventing a multitude of suits.

So, in Bigelow v. Calumet & Hecla Mining Co. (C. C.), 155 Fed. Rep. 869, 876, the court, after reviewing the previous decisions, declared (p. 877): “They do not commend themselves to my judgment so far as they deny the right of a private party, who has sustained special injury by a violation of the Anti-trust Act, to relief by

244 U. S. PITNEY, McKenna, and VAN DEVANTER, JJ., dissenting.

injunction under the general equity jurisdiction of the court. As already seen, the cases referred to do not generally announce such rule."

Aside from their rights under the Act of 1890, I think appellants are now entitled to an injunction under $ 16 of the Clayton Act-the case clearly being within the terms of the section-notwithstanding the act took effect after the final decree in the District Court. In an equity suit for injunction the reviewing court should decide the case according to the law as it exists at the time of its decision. This is not giving a retrospective effect to the new statute, for the relief granted operates only in futuro:

The suggestion, in behalf of defendants, that § 6 of the Clayton Act 1 establishes a policy inconsistent with relief by injunction in such a case as the present, by making legitimate any acts or practices of labor organizations or their members that were unlawful before, is wholly inadmissible. The section prohibits restraining members of such organizations from lawfully carrying out the legitimate objects thereof." What these are is indicated by the qualifying words: "instituted for the purposes of mutual help, and not having capital stock or conducted for profit.” But these are protected only when "lawfully carried out." The section safeguards these organizations while pursuing their legitimate objects by lawful means, and prevents them from being considered, merely be cause organized, to be illegal combinations or conspiracies in restraint of trade. The section, fairly construed, has

1 "Sec. 6. That the labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce. Nothing contained in the antitrust laws shall be construed to forbid the existence and operation of labor, agricultural, or horticultural organizations, instituted for the purposes of mutual help, and not having capital stock or conducted for profit, or to forbid or restrain individual members of such organizations from lawfully carrying out the legitimate objects thereof; nor shall such organizations, or the members thereof, be held or construed to be illegal combinations or conspiracies in restraint of trade, under the antitrust laws."

PITNEY, MCKENNA, and Van DEVANTER, JJ., dissenting. 244 U. S.

no other or further intent or meaning. A reference to the legislative history of the measure confirms this view. House Rep. No. 627, 63d Cong., 2d sess., pp. 2, 14-16; Senate Rep. No. 698, 63d Cong., 2d sess., pp. 1, 10, 46. Neither in the language of the section, nor in the committee reports, is there any indication of a purpose to render lawful or legitimate anything that before the act was unlawful, whether in the objects of such an organization or its members or in the measures adopted for accomplishing them.

It is altogether fallacious, I think, to say that what is being done by the present defendants is done only for the purpose of strengthening the union. Conceding this purpose to be lawful, it does not justify or excuse the resort to unlawful measures for its accomplishment. A member of a labor union may refuse to work with nonunion men, but this does not entitle him to threaten manufacturers for whom he is not working, and with whom he has no concern, with loss of trade and a closing of the channels of interstate commerce against their products if they do not conduct their business in a manner satisfactory to him.

And the suggestion that, before the Clayton Act, unlawful practices of this kind were usually and notoriously resorted to by labor unions, and that for this reason Congress must have intended to describe them as 'legitimate objects,” and thus render lawful what before was unlawful, is a libel upon the labor organizations and a serious impeachment of Congress.

Nor can I find in g 20 of the Clayton Act anything interfering with the right of complainants to an injunction. It refers only to cases “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.”

« AnteriorContinuar »