International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots v. Brown

PETITIONER: International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots
RESPONDENT: Brown
LOCATION: District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division

DOCKET NO.: 89-1330
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1990-1991)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 498 US 466 (1991)
ARGUED: Nov 27, 1990
DECIDED: Feb 20, 1991

ADVOCATES:
James A. Feldman - as amicus curiae, supporting the Respondent
Paul Alan Levy - on behalf of the Respondent
W. Michel Pierson - on behalf of the Petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots v. Brown

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 27, 1990 in International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots v. Brown

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 20, 1991 in International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots v. Brown

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No. 89-1330, International Organization of Master, Mates & Pilots versus Brown will be announced by Justice Stevens as well another case.

John Paul Stevens:

Respondent, a candidate for Union president, requested the Union to provide him with mailing labels so that he could arrange for a timely mailing of campaign literature to Union members prior to the Union's nominating convention.

The request was denied because the Union rule prohibited such pre-convention mailings.

The question presented by this case is whether a court must evaluate the reasonableness of a Union's rule before it decides whether a candidate's request was reasonable.

Respondent filed suit under Section 401(c) which requires every Union to comply with all reasonable request of any candidate who wants to distribute campaign literature at his own expense.

The District Court granted a preliminary injunction in respondent's favor.

The Fourth Circuit affirmed.

And today, we also affirm the judgment of the Fourth Circuit.

In our view, Section 401(c) prescribes a straightforward test.

Is the candidate's distribution request reasonable?

The Section's language requires Unions to comply with all reasonable requests.

This literal interpretation of the statute is consistent with its basic purpose of insuring free and democratic Union elections.

We reject the Union's argument that the request was per se unreasonable simply because it conflicts with the Union rule.

The Union does not advance any other reason for rejecting respondent's request and thus, the request must be granted.

Our opinion is unanimous.