American Comunications Assn., C.I.O., et al. v. Douds
Decided on May 8, 1950; 339 US 382


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

A. Issues Discussed: Free speech, freedom of association

B. Legal Question Presented:

Can Congress, consistently with the First Amendment, exert, by statute, pressures upon labor unions to deny positions of leadership to certain persons who are identified by particular beliefs and political affiliations?

II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

Section 9(h) of the Management Labor Relations Act requires each officer of a labor union to file an affidavit with the National Labor Relations Board, stating that (1) he is not affiliated with the Communist party, and (2) that he does not believe in or support any organization that advocates a violent or illegal overthrow of the US government.

This case regroups two cases labeled No. 10 and No.13. In both cases, the union petitioners were held to be in non-compliance with § 9(h), and therefore, the National Relations Board refused to issue orders in labor disputes in which the non-compliant unions were involved. In No. 10, the District Court dismissed the labor union's request for an injunction, seeking to restrain the enforcement of the non-communist affidavit provision. In No. 13, the Circuit Court denied a similar request

On appeal the Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the District Court and the Court of Appeals.
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)
Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed by Arthur J. Goldberg, Frank Donner and Thomas E. Harris for the Congress of Industrial Organizations; and Osmond K. Fraenkel and Jerome Walsh for the American Civil Liberties Union; Robert W. Kenny, Robert J. Silberstein, Richard F. Watt and Edmund Hatfield for the National Lawyers' Guild; and Allan R. Rosenberg for the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers (C. I. O.).

Victor Rabinowitz argued the cause for appellants in No. 10. With him on the brief was Leonard B. Boudin. Samuel A. Neuburger was also of counsel; Thomas E. Harris argued the cause for petitioners in No. 13. With him on the brief were Arthur J. Goldberg and Frank Donner.
Solicitor General Perlman argued the cause for appellee in No. 10 and respondent in No. 13. With him on the briefs were Robert L. Stern, Stanley M. Silverberg, Robert N. Denham, David P. Findling, A. Norman Somers, Mozart G. Ratner and Norton J. Come.
IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"Section 9(h) of the National Labor Relations Act... which imposes certain restrictions on, and denies the benefits of certain provisions of the National Labor Relations Act, to any labor organization the officers of which have not filed with the National Labor Relations Board the so-called 'non-communist' affidavits prescribed by 9(h), is valid under the Federal Constitution...

The remedy provided by 9(h) bears reasonable relation to the evil which it was designed to reach, since Congress might reasonably find that Communists, unlike members of other political parties, and persons who believe in the overthrow of the Government by force, unlike persons of other beliefs, represent a continuing danger of disruptive political strikes when they hold positions of union leadership...

The belief identified in 9(h) is a belief in the objective of overthrow by force or by any illegal or unconstitutional methods of the Government of the United States as it now exists under the Constitution and laws thereof. The sole effect of the statute upon one who holds such beliefs is that he may be forced to relinquish his position as a union leader. So construed, in the light of the circumstances surrounding the problem, 9(h) does not unduly infringe freedoms protected by the First Amendment..."

The Supreme Court then affirmed the judgments of the District Court and the Court of Appeals.
Justice Vote: 2 Pro vs. 4 Con
  • Black H. Pro (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • Jackson, R. Pro (Joined dissenting opinion)
  • Vinson, F. Con (Wrote majority opinion)
  • Frankfurter, F. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Reed, S. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Burton, H. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Douglas, W. Did not take part in the decision
  • Clark, T. Did not take part in the decision
  • Minton, S. Did not take part in the decision
V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

The ACLU, as amicus curiae, urged reversal of the District Court and the Court of Appeals' Judgments; the Supreme Court affirmed in a 2-4 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent loss.