National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Federal Power Commission

PETITIONER: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
RESPONDENT: Federal Power Commission
LOCATION: District Attorney’s Office, County of Los Angeles

DOCKET NO.: 74-1608
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 425 US 662 (1976)
ARGUED: Feb 25, 1976
DECIDED: May 19, 1976

ADVOCATES:
Drexel D. Journey - for the F.P.C
Howard A. Glickstein - for Nat

Facts of the case

Question

Media for National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Federal Power Commission

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 25, 1976 in National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Federal Power Commission

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - May 19, 1976 in National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Federal Power Commission

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the court in number 74-1608 and related case 1619, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People against the Federal Power Commission will be announced by Mr. Justice Stewart.

Potter Stewart:

This cases are here by way of the grant of writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The issue is to one what extent if any the Federal Power Commission in the performance of its function under the Federal Power Act and the Natural Gas Act has authority to prohibit discriminatory employment practices on the part of the companies that it regulates.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and several other organizations, petitioned the Commission to issue a rule, requiring equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination in the employment practices of its regulatees.

Proposed rule would have required the regulated companies to adopt affirmative action programs to combat discrimination and employment and would have given any person who believed himself to have been subjected to employment discrimination by any such company.

The right to file a complaint with the commission.

The commission refused to adopted the proposed rule, holding that it had no jurisdiction to do so, because the only purposes of the Natural Gas and Federal Power Acts are economic regulation of entrepreneurs engaged in energy and resource development.

On petition for review the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit agreed that the commission was without power to prescribe personal practices in detail and to receive complaints, adjudicate them and punish directly in fractions to those practices.

But the court held that the commission does have power to take into account in the performance of its regulatory functions including licensing and rate review, evidence that the regulatee is a demonstrated discriminator in its employment relations.

Both the commission and the NAACP petitioned for certiorari and we granted both petitions in order to consider the scope of the commission's authority to deal with discriminatory employment practices on the part of the companies that it regulates.

The question presented is not whether the elimination of discrimination from our society is an important national goal, it clearly is.

The question is not whether Congress could authorize the Federal Power Commission to combat such discrimination, it clearly could.

The question is simply whether or to what extent Congress did grant the commission such authority.

For the reasons discussed in the Court's written opinion filed with the clerk this morning.

We agree with the Court of Appeals that the Federal Power Commission is authorized to consider the consequences of discriminatory employment practices on the part of its regulatees but only insofar as such consequences are directly related to the commission's establishment of just and reasonable rates, in the public interest.

Accordingly we affirm the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Mr. Justice Marshall in the consideration or decision of this case, Mr. Justice Powell has filed a concurring opinion and the Chief Justice has filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Stewart.