Brown v. Department of Law and Public Safety

RESPONDENT: Department of Law and Public Safety
LOCATION: Board of Immigration Appeals

DOCKET NO.: 83-498
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 468 US 491 (1984)
ARGUED: Mar 26, 1984
DECIDED: Jul 02, 1984

Anthony J. Parrillo - for appellants
Laurence Stephen Gold - for appellees

Facts of the case


Media for Brown v. Department of Law and Public Safety

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 26, 1984 in Brown v. Department of Law and Public Safety

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Brown against Hotel and Restaurant Employees and the consolidated case.

Mr. Parrillo, I think you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Anthony J. Parrillo:

Thank you.

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.

This matter is here on appeal from the Third Circuit's decision declaring preempted a provision of New Jersey law which disqualifies certain labor union officials on the basis of state proscribed criminal or quasi-criminal conduct from association with our casino gaming industry.

That provision, Section 93 of New Jersey's Casino Control Act, is but part of a larger comprehensive statutory and regulatory scheme of casino control which is designed not only to prevent the industry's infiltration by criminal elements or their agents, but also to avoid any public perception that such a foothold is even available.

The issue the is whether New Jersey's exercise of its police power over conduct incompatible with the well regulated casino industry impermissibly clashes with rights accorded unions and their members by federal labor law.

The facts here are not in dispute, and are basically a matter of historical, judicial, and legislative record.

In 1976, New Jersey, within the sole confines of Atlantic City, legalized casino gambling, and spawned an industry that had been criminally outlawed for over 200 years in our state.

Intended as a tool to revive a decaying region in our state and to fund worthy programs for the benefit of our seniors and handicapped citizens, the casino gaming industry is vitally and strongly affected with a deep public interest.

No matter how great its rewards, New Jersey would tolerate casino gaming only if it were regulated and controlled in such a manner as to avoid any risks to which the public would be exposed by legalizing this heretofore unlawful activity.

Thus, aware of the uniqueness of the industry, its historical susceptibility to crime and corruption, and the documented hazards associated with gambling generally our legislature enacted the toughest and the tightest set of casino rules perhaps in the world.

The very prospect of such comprehensive legislation was the basis upon which New Jersey citizens consented to casino gaming in the first place.

The distinction between this business of casino gaming and useful trades and occupations is substantial, and it compels a state regulatory interest in every aspect of casino activities, as well as those ancillary enterprises and individuals involved either directly or indirectly with a licensed casino operation.

Our legislature included within this latter class casino hotel labor unions, because by virtue of the relationship, of their relationship with the licensed employees they represent, and the licensed employer they collectively negotiate with, such unions are positioned to exert significant control and influence over the conduct of legalized casino gaming in New Jersey.

Thus, Section 93 of our Casino Control Act is basically an information gathering device for the state, and it requires that each union representing casino hotel workers as well as its leadership register and file disclosure forms with the Casino Control Commission.

This information in turn assists the sister agency, that is, the Division of Gaming Enforcement's investigation into whether these casino labor officials have engaged in any of the essentially criminal or quasi-criminal conduct proscribed by another section of the Casino Control Act, and that is Section 86.

If proof of such conduct is uncovered, the Casino Control Commission is empowered to hold a full evidentiary trial type hearing.

Upon finding a disqualifying event, the Commission may order that sanctions befall the union if the disqualified official remains in office.

These sanctions, the ban on dues collection in employee benefit plan administration, whether applied singly, as in this case, or jointly, serve only to encourage the removal of the disqualified officer, and decidedly not to disqualify the union as an entity or as an organization.

The rest is history.

In 1978, appellees Local 54 as well as its leaders did register and file the requisite disclosure forms with the Casino Control Commission.

When the results of the Division of Gaming Enforcement's investigation were reported to it, the Commission scheduled a hearing.

After appellee's motion in the Federal District Court to preliminarily enjoin the proceeding was denied, the Commission proceeded to a hearing and a decision, and that decision found three of Local 54's officers disqualified in accordance with the statutory criteria of Section 86.

The Commission then ordered that if these three individuals were to remain in union office by a certain day, then the sanction of a dues collection ban would follow.

The Commission determined not to invoke the other remedy available to it, and this order, of course--

This was what?

Anthony J. Parrillo:

--The other remedy available to the Commission was the ban, Justice White, on Local 54's administration of employee benefit plans.

Do you think the state could just have a general statute that generally imposed some kind of qualifications for holding a union office?

For example, what if a state statute said no person who has been convicted of a felony may be president of any labor union in the state?