Mitchell v. King Packing Company

RESPONDENT: King Packing Company

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1955-1956)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

ARGUED: Nov 16, 1955 / Nov 17, 1955
DECIDED: Jan 30, 1956

Facts of the case


Media for Mitchell v. King Packing Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 16, 1955 in Mitchell v. King Packing Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 17, 1955 in Mitchell v. King Packing Company

Earl Warren:

Number 39, James P. Mitchell, Secretary of Labor, versus King Packing Company.

Mr. Johnston, you may proceed.

Willard S. Johnston:

Thank you, Your Honor.

May it please the Court.

Yesterday, we we're discussing the question whether or not, the decision of this Court, one way or the other, might resolve and one or more of the Senators, having been mislead as a result of what occurred on the Senate when the Portal Act was passed.

I think that if the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is affirmed, no Senator can fairly be said to have been mislead.

I will explain the basis for that.

I base it in part upon the statement in the Senate Report, which is so heavily relied upon by counsel for the Government in which we have quoted at page 18 of our brief in which, the report, upon which the Senate acted specifically said that the purpose of the Act was to make noncompensable activities and I quote, “Such as the preliminary activities which were involved in the Mt. Clemens case.”

It seems to me that that's most significant.

The very kind of activities with which this Court is concerned in this case were involved in the Mt. Clemens case, tool sharpening occurring preliminary to the regular work and in its formal document upon which it acted.

The Senate specifically said that it intended by this Act to make those activities non-compensable.

And I think that that is far more persuasive if we are to go into the legislative history than casual remarks made by any of the senators on --

Hugo L. Black:

You can include the word “such as” to be the same as though that you said “all.”

Willard S. Johnston:

Yes, it's a -- it -- that appears to me to be the case.

It's -- the activities are to be made non-compensable, which are either alike or similar.

It's even broader, I would say, Mr. Justice Black, than the same as.

It certainly includes those activities and any others that are like that.

And I think this shows that the line is certainly not to be drawn at some point, farther than the line that was drawn in the Mt. Clemens case, which is what the Government is really contending in this case.

Earl Warren:

Well, Mr. Johnston, what do you do with the language of the report as quoted starting at the bottom of page 13 and following over on 14 in the -- in the Government's brief?

Willard S. Johnston:


There, at the bottom of page 13, the Senate Report emphasizes that the term “principal activity” includes activities, which are an integral part of the principal activity.

Now, we agree with that, take no issue with that.

The Ninth Circuit took no issue with that.

But what the Government is doing and what I think Senator Cooper did was to, in -- in the debates but it's not in the report, I believe, use the word "indispensable” as synonymous with the word "integral.”

They mean -- they're two different things.

Certainly, they're overlapping, but they don't mean the same thing.

Something that's integral is -- is a part of the principal activity, something that's integral to the principal activity.

But many things may be indispensable to the principal activity and yet not be a part of it, not be integral to it.

For example, it was indispensable that I come from San Francisco to Washington and make this argument, but that trip, that travel, was no part of this argument.

There's a clear, obvious distinction between integral and indispensable not going on.