Kaiser Steel Corporation v. Mullins

PETITIONER: Kaiser Steel Corporation
LOCATION: Turner Turnpike

DOCKET NO.: 80-1345
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 455 US 72 (1982)
ARGUED: Nov 10, 1981
DECIDED: Jan 13, 1982

A. Douglas Melamed - for petitioner
Barbara E. Etkind - amicus curiae
Stephen J. Pollak - on behalf of the Respondents

Facts of the case


Media for Kaiser Steel Corporation v. Mullins

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 10, 1981 in Kaiser Steel Corporation v. Mullins

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 13, 1982 in Kaiser Steel Corporation v. Mullins

Warren E. Burger:

The judgments and opinion of the Court in Kaiser Steel Corporation against Mullins will be announced by Justice White.

Byron R. White:

This case is here from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Under the collective-bargaining contract signed by petitioner Kaiser Steel and the United Mine Workers of America, Kaiser was required to pay into certain union pension funds, a specified amount of money for each ton of coal that it mined.

It was also -- it also promised in the contract to make similar payments with respect to each ton of coal purchased from other producers on which payments have -- had not been made into the funds.

This was a so-called purchased-coal clause.

During the life of the contract, Kaiser paid the required money with respect to coal that it mined but it didn’t make the payments with respect to a considerable amount of coal that it purchased from other producers.

When sued by the pension fund trustees, Kaiser defended on the ground that the purchased-coal clause was illegal not only as a restraint of trade under the antitrust laws but as a hot cargo clause that was illegal under Section 8(e) of the National Labor Relations Act.

The District Court and the Court of Appeals held that even if the purchased-coal clause was illegal under the antitrust laws or the labor laws, he promise it was enforceable in a suit by the pension fund trustees.

We granted certiorari and we now reverse for the reasons that we stated in opinion on the file with the Court, we say no reason to depart from the historic rule that the courts will not enforce illegal promises, so the judgment is reverse.

Justice Brennan has filed a dissenting opinion in which Justices Marshall and Blackmun have joined.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Justice White.