Calhoon v. Harvey

LOCATION: Criminal District Court, Parish of New Orleans

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 379 US 134 (1964)
ARGUED: Oct 20, 1964
DECIDED: Dec 07, 1964

Facts of the case


Media for Calhoon v. Harvey

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 20, 1964 in Calhoon v. Harvey

Earl Warren:

Calhoon, as President, or Herbert W. Peters, as Secretary-Treasurer of District No. 1, National Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association, AFL-CIO, Petitioner, versus Raymond H. Harvey et al.

Individually and on behalf of other persons similarly situated.

Mr. Scribner.

David Scribner:

Mr. Chief Justice, if it please the Court.

The issue here affects the interpretation of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, insofar as it relates to one specific issue and that is the question as to whether the District Court on the complaint of a private party that is a member of the union may it make a determination assuming jurisdiction therefore in respect to the reasonableness of eligibility qualifications for candidacy to union office, the far reaching nature of the ultimate determination of this is apparent because of the many thousands of union elections that go on everyday in the weekends throughout the year.

If the question -- if the answer into this question is that the District Court may assume initial jurisdiction that is on the complaint of a private party and before an election has been concluded and obviously, every member of any union at any time prior to an election may attack candidacy qualifications under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.

On the other hand, if the answer is no, as I suggests and as the United States suggests in its memorandum to this Court which was asked for by the Court, then the relief to be obtained by a member who seeks relief in respect to eligibility requirements would be to make a complaint as the Act requires to the Secretary of Labor under certain circumstances and under certain conditions, the Secretary of Labor would then make the necessary investigation and under the circumstances set forth in the Act would then file a complaint in the name of the Secretary of Labor to the District Court for -- to set aside the election which is under attack and to secure a new election under the offices and supervision of the Secretary of Labor.

Now, the scheme of the Act as the petitioner sees, it is a fairly simple one, Title IV of the Act which was initially the subject of the Kennedy Urban Bill which initiated the entire legislative process in 1959, in which lead to the Act itself, provides for almost every manner relating to the election process.

There more specifically, the Act provides and particularly in Section 401 (e), among other things that every member in good standing of the union has the right to be a candidate for election to union office subject to reasonable qualifications uniformly imposed by the union.

That is specific -- those are the words of the Act itself.

On the other hand, Title I, 101 (a) of the Act which is essentially the so-called Bill of Rights which had been introduced by Senator McClellan, as the result with his investigation, provides that every member of the union has the equal right to nominate.

Enforcement under those circumstances, that is to enforce the equal right to nominate is on -- is in the District Court upon the complaint of the member aggrieved.

Now the respondents in this proceeding, members of the union, nominated themselves under the union procedures that I will demonstrate in a moment and were then disqualified by the Credentials Committee of the Union after their nominations had been received because they did not meet the requirement of a certain amount of seatime.

Many unions, and frankly, most unions that I know of and particularly in the maritime industry have provisions for a certain amount of employment as the condition for candidacy in order to have people who would be officers, who will be familiar with the running of the union and the industry itself and the problems of the individual members and the like.

They had nominated themselves only for the office of patrolman and for nothing else.

Potter Stewart:

What is a Patrolman (Inaudible) --

David Scribner:

A patrolman is like a representative of the union at the ports.

He meets the ship.

He takes care of all the problems of the men as they come in from sea, as they come off the ship and then sees to it that their problems are met through the union, gives them advice and guidance is really the most important.

I would consider -- probably the most important single union representative or at least as important as almost anybody that I know of.

Well, he's not really like a steward because he's a full time employee of the union or elected official of the union but he's not like a steward because a steward normally is a member -- is a working man in the shop and is -- has been elected by the immediate persons in his department or division.

Potter Stewart:

Is it just one patrolman in each port or are there several?

David Scribner:

Well, there are different divisions there.A patrolman who is known as a patrolman is also a business agent for the particular port to -- who has a different status, but more or less serves in the same capacity.

Arthur J. Goldberg:

Mr. Scribner, as to the (Inaudible)?

David Scribner:

He can nominate himself.

He may nominate himself.

At least, that's the way the provision raised.

We're not contesting at this moment whether that was permissive or not permissive.

I think in the posture of the case let's assume, I think the record is that at this moment.

It happens not to be the fact, but it is not -- we're not raising that at this moment.