Burlington Truck Lines, Inc. v. United States

PETITIONER: Burlington Truck Lines, Inc.
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Clauson's Inn

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)

CITATION: 371 US 156 (1962)
ARGUED: Oct 15, 1962 / Oct 16, 1962
DECIDED: Dec 03, 1962

Facts of the case


Media for Burlington Truck Lines, Inc. v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 15, 1962 in Burlington Truck Lines, Inc. v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 16, 1962 in Burlington Truck Lines, Inc. v. United States

Earl Warren:

Burlington Truck Lines Incorporated, Appellants, versus United States.

Mr. Harding.

David D. Weinberg:

Mr. Weinberg.

Earl Warren:

Oh, Mr. Weinberg, yes.

David D. Weinberg:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case is one of an employer voluntarily complying as distinguished from being forced by strike action on the part of his employees to comply with a Hot Cargo Clause which at that time pre-1959 was unquestionably legal and so decided by this very Court in Sand Door.

This Court squarely held in Sand Door that National Labor Policy leaves all employers, including employers in the trucking industry, public utility employers, free voluntarily to perform such agreements.

The question here then is whether the Interstate Commerce Commission can make that conduct which National Labor Policy allows the occasion for retribution whether in the form of withdrawal of a carrier certificate or licensing a competing and rival carriers happened in this case.

Now, the Interstate Commerce Commission says, “It is not punishing the carrier for voluntary compliance.

It's merely assuring service to the public” and they so argued in their brief.

But the short answer to that is another case decided by this very Court, Southern Steamship versus NLRB and this Court admonished the National Labor Relations Board.

In that case, not to take a single minded attitude, and in the words of this Court, where the case is not like that in Southern Steamship Company versus Labor Board where the Board was admonished not to apply the policies of its statute, that’s the National Labor Relations Act, so single mindedly as to ignore other equally important congressional objectives and that’s the exact situation we have here.

The ICC is ignoring, negating if you please, the National Labor Policy that supports collective bargaining.

The ICC in effect is interfering with the freedom of contract for a lawful clause, voluntarily entered into by the parties and this is an exact case with Southern Steamship.

Now, the Interstate Commerce Commission can no more be allowed in this case to pursue its objective of providing transportation service to the public without regard to the effect of what it is doing on Congress’ Labor Policy.

Then the National Labor Relations Board in Southern Steamship could be allowed to pursue its policy of reinstating strikers without regard to the effect of what it was doing upon Congress’ mutiny laws.

If you remember in Southern Steamship, the Board ordered reinstatement of strikers on a ship. At the same time, there was a question of whether -- by engaging in a strike on a ship, they engaged in mutiny.

John M. Harlan II:

What is there to show Mr. Weinberg that the Board didn't -- the ICC didn't take into account the labor policy?

David D. Weinberg:

They didn't take the -- well --

John M. Harlan II:

What is there to show that they didn't -- they weren't cognizant of the fact, of that area --

David D. Weinberg:

They weren't cognize -- their whole case, their whole decision rests upon the labor dispute.

John M. Harlan II:

Southern Steamship doesn't suggest that in such circumstances, ICC doesn't have any jurisdiction.

David D. Weinberg:

No, but they must be mindful of the Congressional policies in our statutes.

John M. Harlan II:

My question is what is there to show that they weren't mindful?

David D. Weinberg:

Well, I think the very decision shows that they weren't mindful when the very basis of this decision was the labor dispute despite their protestation to the opposite.

I think that's very aptly set out in the examiner's opinion, one of the trial examiner's opinion, that was approved by the ICC and was considered by it.

This is from the record, page 96.

Its examiner Priscal's finding and if I may, I'd like to read it to the Court.

I think it's the epitome of this situation.

The truck line carriers have union contracts.