International Longshoremen's Association, AFL-CIO v. Davis

PETITIONER: International Longshoremen's Association, AFL-CIO
LOCATION: Dow Chemical

DOCKET NO.: 85-217
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Alabama

CITATION: 476 US 380 (1986)
ARGUED: Feb 25, 1986
DECIDED: May 27, 1986

Bayless E. Biles - on behalf of Appellee
Charles R. Goldburg - on behalf of Appellant

Facts of the case


Media for International Longshoremen's Association, AFL-CIO v. Davis

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 25, 1986 in International Longshoremen's Association, AFL-CIO v. Davis

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Local 28 v. the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Mr. Goldburg, I think you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Charles R. Goldburg:

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

In this case the ILA attempted to organize a group of ship superintendents, and the union is alleged to have told the men it could get them their jobs back if they were fired for union activity.

The first issue to consider is whether the defense of federal preemption is waivable.

In the Garmon case, this Court said that when an activity is arguably subject to Section 7 or Section 8 of the Act, the states are deprived of subject matter jurisdiction.

Since the defense of federal preemption deprives the Court, the State Court of subject matter jurisdiction, the defense should be nonwaivable.

Among the factors that the Court noted in Garmon in reaching this conclusion is that the LMRA is not merely a matter of substantive law.

Congress created a tribunal, the National Labor Relations Board, with specially designed procedures, and the Court recognized that a variety of local procedures and attitudes could lead to inconsistent adjudications just as easily as inconsistent rules of substantive law.

William H. Rehnquist:

Then it is your submission, Mr. Goldburg, that a defense like this could have been raised even for the first time on appeal?

Charles R. Goldburg:

That is correct, Justice Rehnquist.

William H. Rehnquist:

And what if the judgment had finally become final, could you collaterally attack the judgment because of lack of jurisdiction?

Charles R. Goldburg:

No, I do not believe that the judgment could be collaterally attacked.

It is my understanding that the Court has held that subject matter... well, in a sense, it... I'm sorry.

The question then would be a matter of full faith and credit, and I believe full faith and credit does not preclude inquiry into jurisdiction.

William H. Rehnquist:

I got the impression from your brief that some of your arguments about subject matter jurisdiction were based on the idea that it can be raised, or based on cases arising in the federal courts.

Why should those be carried over to a state court system?

Charles R. Goldburg:

Because in Garmon I believe that this Court held that Congress deprived the states of subject matter jurisdiction to rule on this type of a controversy.

Congress took the subject matter jurisdiction away, and therefore the states have no--

William H. Rehnquist:

Well, of course, the Supreme Court of Alabama answered that by saying that our trial courts of general jurisdiction have jurisdiction to try in this representation case.

Charles R. Goldburg:

--But the fact that... well, I think all states have courts of general jurisdiction, and if merely by the state giving one of its trial courts general jurisdiction they could overrule Congress on a decision to take subject matter jurisdiction away, national labor policy would be frustrated.

William H. Rehnquist:

Well, does the term... does the Garmon case use the term subject matter jurisdiction?

Charles R. Goldburg:

It says jurisdiction?

William H. Rehnquist:

Yes, but why do you use the term subject matter jurisdiction?

Charles R. Goldburg:

Well, I think that's the only jurisdiction that the Court could have been talking about because the Court was very concerned with a variety of local procedures being applied by the states and a variety of attitudes being possessed by the states on labor controversies, and I think the only way that Congress could ensure that these types of issues were submitted to the Board and that the conduct that Congress intended to be protected under Section 7 would be protected would be if state courts did not have the jurisdiction to reach the merits of this type of controversy.

William H. Rehnquist:

Well, do you know why this point wasn't raised until after trial in this case?

Charles R. Goldburg:

I think it was purely inadvertence.

I don't think there was any strategic motivation.

William H. Rehnquist:

It wasn't... well, I suppose the Alabama courts could look at it as an effort to get a favorable judgment on the merits, and if you don't get that, then you raise this point afterward.

Charles R. Goldburg:

But I just don't see how we can infer a strategic motivation because we... you say favorable judgment.