Sears, Roebuck & Company v. San Diego County District Council of Carpenters

PETITIONER:Sears, Roebuck & Company
RESPONDENT:San Diego County District Council of Carpenters
LOCATION:United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

DOCKET NO.: 76-750
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of California

CITATION: 436 US 180 (1978)
ARGUED: Nov 07, 1977
DECIDED: May 15, 1978

ADVOCATES:
H. Warren Siegel – for petitioner
Jerry J. Williams – for respondent

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Sears, Roebuck & Company v. San Diego County District Council of Carpenters

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 07, 1977 in Sears, Roebuck & Company v. San Diego County District Council of Carpenters

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – May 15, 1978 in Sears, Roebuck & Company v. San Diego County District Council of Carpenters

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the court in Sears, Roebuck & Company against.

San Diego County District Council of Carpenters will be announced by Mr. Justice Stevens.

John Paul Stevens:

This is a labor case in which the question is whether the National Labor Relations Act deprives a State court of jurisdiction to enjoin picketing that is conducted in violation of State trespass laws and that is arguably either prohibited or protected by the Federal Statute.

The case comes to us from the Supreme Court of California.

A California Trial Judge entered an injunction requiring that a union discontinue its picketing in the parking lot of a Sears, Roebuck department store.

The picketing had been commenced when the union learned that certain carpentry work was being performed at the store by men who had not been dispatched from the union hiring hall.

And when Sears did not agree to use only union carpenters.

The California Supreme Court had reversed the trial judge on the ground that the picketing was at least arguably protected by Federal Law or in the alternative.

Arguably constituted the violation of the Federal Statute and therefore only the National Labor Relations Board, had Jurisdiction to determine its legality.

For reasons stated in detail in an opinion filed with the clerk.

We reversed the California Supreme Court.

We hold that the fact of the objective of the picketing is arguably proscribed by Federal Law does not deprive the State Court of Jurisdiction to consider whether the picketing maybe conducted on Sears’s property rather than public property.

We also hold that at least when the union has fail to invoke the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board.

And when permitting the State Court to entertain a trespass cause of action does not create a significant risk of interference with protected conduct.

The State Court has jurisdiction to make the preliminary determination of whether or not the picketing is in fact protected by Federal Law.

For in these circumstances the State Court is the only tribunal in which the issue maybe decided.

We therefore reverse the decision of the California Supreme Court and remand the case to that court for further proceedings.

Mr. Justice Blackmun and Mr. Justice Powell, while joining the opinion of the Court have each filed a separate concurring opinion.

Mr. justice Brennan has filed a dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Stewart and Mr. Justice Marshall have joined.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Mr. Justice Stevens.