Alabama State Federation of Labor v. McAdory
Decided on June 11, 1945; 325 US 450


I. ISSUES II. CASE SUMMARY III. AMICI CURIAE IV. DECISION V. WIN OR LOSS?
I. ISSUES:

A. Issues Discussed: Labor union regulation, declaratory judgment

B. Legal Question Presented:

Are petitioners' contentions about the constitutionality of certain sections of the Bradford Act and their impact on Petitioners' activities, sufficiently factual for the US Supreme Court to determine whether Petitioners' rights would be affected by the Act?

II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

"Petitioners brought the present suit in the Alabama Circuit Court for Jefferson County against respondents, officers of Jefferson County, charged with the duty of enforcing the Bradford Act. They prayed a declaratory judgment that the Act as a whole and specifically 7, 15, and 16, among others, are unconstitutional and void under federal and state constitutions...

[T]he circuit court held the Act as a whole, and specifically 7 of the Act, to be valid and constitutional. It declined as 'inappropriate' to make declarations as to the validity of 15 and 16. On appeal, petitioners assigning as error the circuit court's failure to pass upon the constitutionality of 15 and 16, and to declare those sections and 7 unconstitutional, the state supreme court held all three sections valid and constitutional."

The US Supreme Court dismissesd its writ of certiorari because the question presented was "so unsubstantial" as to be inappropriate for decision in a declaratory judgment.

B. Counsel of Record:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Messrs. Horace C. Wilkinson, of Birmingham, Ala., and Joseph A. Padway, of Washington, D.C., for petitioners. Messrs. John W. Lapsley and James A. Simpson, both of Birmingham, Ala ., and John E. Adams, of Grove Hill, Ala., for respondents.
IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"The Bradford Act is a comprehensive enactment regulating labor unions having members who are employees working in the State of Alabama...

So far as appears the Supreme Court of Alabama has not construed the penal provisions of the statute or determined that the failure of a labor organization to file the documents specified in [Section] 7 entails any consequences other than the specified penalty for the failure to file, with a further penalty if without filing the labor organization or its officers continue to collect dues. Neither of these sanctions is asserted or shown to operate as an injunction restraining freedom of speech or assembly. Nor does it appear that the Alabama courts have held that a labor organization failing to file may be enjoined from functioning...

We are thus invited to pass upon the constitutional validity of a state statute which has not yet been applied or threatened to be applied by the state courts to petitioners or others in the manner anticipated. Lacking any authoritative construction of the statute by the state courts, without which no constitutional question arises, and lacking the authority to give such a controlling construction ourselves, and with a record which presents no concrete set of facts to which the statute is to be applied, the case is plainly not one to be disposed of by the declaratory judgment procedure... "

The US Supreme Court dismissed its writ of certiorari.

Justice Vote: 0 Pro vs. 9 Con
(Unanimous Decision for Respondent/Appellee)
  • Stone, H.Con (Wrote majority opinion)
  • Roberts, O. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Black, H. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Reed, S. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Frankfurter, F. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Douglas, W. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Murphy, F. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Jackson, R. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Rutledge, W. Con (Joined majority opinion)
V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

The ACLU, as amicus curiae in support of Petitioner, urged for a declaratory judgment; the Supreme Court denied it in a 0-9 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent loss.