UNITED STATES v. GREEN ET AL.
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF
ILLINOIS. No. 54.
Argued February 27, 1956.
Decided March 26, 1956.
Obstruction of interstate commerce or an attempt to do so through the wrongful use by a labor union or its agents of actual or threatened force, violence or fear, in an attempt to compel an employer to pay "wages" to members of the union for imposed, unwanted, superfluous and fictitious "services," is a violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. 1951. Pp. 416-421.
Oscar H. Davis argued the cause for the United States. On the brief were Solicitor General Sobeloff, Assistant Attorney General Olney, Beatrice Rosenberg and Carl H. Imlay.
Arthur M. Fitzgerald argued the cause for appellees. With him on the brief were Schaeffer O'Neill and William P. Roberts. [350 U.S. 415, 416]
MR. JUSTICE REED delivered the opinion of the Court.
An indictment was found in the Southern District of Illinois against appellees Green and a local union. The jury adjudged them guilty under counts one and two thereof. The court sustained their separate motions in arrest of judgment, setting out in its order that its action was "solely" on the following grounds:
The two counts in question were based upon alleged violations of 18 U.S.C. 1951, popularly known as the Hobbs Act. The pertinent statutory provisions are subsections (a) and (b) (2) thereof, reading as follows:
We do not agree with that interpretation of the section. The Hobbs Act was passed after this Court had construed 2 of the Federal Anti-Racketeering Act of 1934, 48 Stat. 979, in United States v. Local 807, 315 U.S. 521 . Subsection (a) of 2 barred, with respect to interstate commerce, exaction of valuable considerations by force, violence or coercion, "not including, however, the payment [350 U.S. 415, 419] of wages by a bona-fide employer to a bona-fide employee." We held in Local 807 that this exception covered members of a city truck drivers' union offering superfluous services to drive arriving trucks to their city destination with intent, if the truck owners refused their offer, to exact the wages by violence. 4 In the Hobbs Act, 60 Stat. 420, carried forward as 18 U.S.C. 1951, which amended the Anti-Racketeering Act, the exclusion clause involved in the Local 807 decision was dropped. The legislative history makes clear that the new Act was meant to eliminate any grounds for future judicial conclusions that Congress did not intend to cover the employer-employee relationship. 5 The words were defined to avoid any misunderstanding.
Title II of the Hobbs Act provides that the provisions of the Act shall not affect the Clayton Act, 6 and 20, [350 U.S. 415, 420] 38 Stat. 731, 738; the Norris-LaGuardia Act, 47 Stat. 70; the Railway Labor Act, 44 Stat. 577; or the National Labor Relations Act, 49 Stat. 449. 6 There is nothing in any of those Acts, however, that indicates any protection for unions or their officials in attempts to get personal property through threats of force or violence. Those are not legitimate means for improving labor conditions. 7 If the trial court intended by its references to the Norris-LaGuardia and Wagner Acts to indicate any such labor exception, which we doubt, it was in error. Apparently what the court meant is more clearly expressed by its statement, set out in the last paragraph of note 2 above, that the charged acts would be criminal only if they were used to obtain property for the personal benefit of the union or its agent, in this case Green. This latter holding is also erroneous. The city truckers in the Local 807 case similarly were trying by force to get jobs and pay from the out-of-state truckers by threats and violence. The Hobbs Act was meant to stop just such conduct. And extortion as defined in the statute in no way depends upon having a direct benefit conferred on the person who obtains the property.
It is also stated in the opinion below that to interpret the Act as covering the activity charged would "extend the jurisdiction of the Court, and the power of Congress beyond their Constitutional limits." 135 F. Supp., at 162. The same language is in the order. Since in our view the legislation is directed at the protection of interstate commerce against injury from extortion, the court's holding is clearly wrong. We said in the Local 807 case [350 U.S. 415, 421] that racketeering affecting interstate commerce was within federal legislative control. 315 U.S., at 536 . Cf. Cleveland v. United States, 329 U.S. 14, 19 ; Mitchell v. Vollmer & Co., 349 U.S. 427 .
On this appeal the record does not contain the evidence upon which the court acted. The indictment charges interference with commerce by extortion in the words of the Act's definition of that crime. We rule only on the allegations of the indictment and hold that the acts charged against appellees fall within the terms of the Act. The order in arrest of judgment is reversed and the cause remanded to the District Court.
[ Footnote 2 ] The opinion states:
[ Footnote 4 ] The exception was held also to permeate the entire Act. P. 527, n. 2.
[ Footnote 5 ] Beginning soon after our decision in the Local 807 case, a series of bills was introduced in Congress looking toward an amendment to the Anti-Racketeering Act of 1934. S. 2347, 77th Cong., 2d Sess.; H. R. 6872, 77th Cong., 2d Sess.; H. R. 7067, 77th Cong., 2d Sess.; H. R. 653, 78th Cong., 1st Sess.; H. R. 32, 79th Cong., 1st Sess. The last of these bills, H. R. 32, supra, was enacted and became the Hobbs Act, 62 Stat. 793. The House Committee on the Judiciary, in its report on H. R. 32, stated:
[ Footnote 6 ] The Hobbs Act was enacted prior to the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947.
[ Footnote 7 ] Cf. United States v. Ryan, 350 U.S. 299 ; United Construction Workers v. Laburnum Corp., 347 U.S. 656 ; Allen-Bradley Local v. Wisconsin Board, 315 U.S. 740 ; Labor Board v. Fansteel Corp., 306 U.S. 240 ; United States v. Kemble, 198 F.2d 889.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE and MR. JUSTICE BLACK concur, dissenting.
The Government has no right to a direct appeal to this Court under 18 U.S.C. 3731 if the District Court judgment "was not placed solely upon the invalidity or construction of the statute." United States v. Wayne Pump Co., 317 U.S. 200, 208 . (Italics added.) The presence of any additional and independent ground for the District Court's order is fatal to direct review here. I am convinced that there is such an independent ground for the District Court's judgment in this case. It is evident from the district judge's memorandum opinion (135 F. Supp. 162) that his order granting the motions in arrest of judgment rested at least in part upon the insufficiency of the evidence to support the conviction. He considered facts not alleged in the indictment, e. g., that contractors in the community had customarily agreed to the employment of labor which allegedly was demanded by appellees, and that the trouble on the particular job was caused by a disagreement between the contractor and labor, not by an attempt to extort. I would therefore dismiss the Government's appeal. [350 U.S. 415, 422]