Duplex Printing Press Co. v. Deering
Annotate this Case
254 U.S. 443 (1921)
U.S. Supreme Court
Duplex Printing Press Co. v. Deering, 254 U.S. 443 (1921)
Duplex Printing Press Co. v. Deering
Argued January 22, 1920
Decided January 3, 1921
254 U.S. 443
1. The Act of October 15, 1914, known as the Clayton Act, in so far as it grants relief by injunction to private suitors, or affixes conditions and otherwise modifies the Sherman Act, is applicable to a suit for an injunction pending at the time of its enactment. P. 254 U. S. 464.
2. For the purpose of compelling a manufacturer of printing presses to unionize its factory in Michigan, in which there had been an unsuccessful strike, and to enforce there the "closed shop," the eight-hour day and the union scale of wages, organizations of machinists with headquarters at New York City, and a larger organization of national scope with which they were affiliated, entered into a combination to interfere with and restrain the manufacturer's interstate trade by means of a "secondary" boycott, centered particularly at New York City and vicinity where many of the presses were marketed, in pursuance of which this manufacturer's customers in and near New York were warned, with threats of loss and of sympathetic strikes in other trades, not to purchase or install its presses; a trucking company usually employed by customers
was notified, with threats, not to haul them; employees of the trucking company and of customers were incited to strike in order to prevent both hauling and installation; repair hops were notified not to repair them; union men were coerced by threats of the loss of their union cards and of being blacklisted as "scabs" if they assisted in installing them; an exposition company was threatened with a strike, if it allowed them to be exhibited, etc., etc. -- all of which seriously interfered with the interstate trade of the manufacturer and caused great loss to its business. Held, a combination and conspiracy to restrain interstate commerce against which the manufacturer was entitled to relief by injunction under the Sherman Act, as amended by the Clayton Act. Pp. 254 U. S. 461 et seq.
3. A conspiracy is a combination of two or more by concerted action to accomplish an unlawful purpose or to accomplish a purpose not in itself unlawful by unlawful means. If the purpose be unlawful, it may not be carried out by means otherwise lawful; and although it be lawful, it may not be carried out by means that are unlawful. P. 254 U. S. 465.
4. A "secondary boycott" is a combination not merely to refrain from dealing with the person aimed at, or to advise or by peaceful means persuade his customers to refrain, but to exercise coercive pressure upon such customers, actual or prospective, in order to cause them to withhold or withdraw patronage through fear of loss or damage to themselves. P. 254 U. S. 466.
5. In determining the right to an injunction under the Clayton and Sherman Acts, the legality or illegality of a boycott under the common law or under the statutes of a particular State is of minor consequence, since the acts of Congress are paramount in their field, and must be given full, independent effect. P. 254 U. S. 466.
6. It is settled by decisions of this court that a restraint of interstate commerce produced by peaceable persuasion violates the Sherman Act, and is not justified by the fact that the participants in the combination or conspiracy have an object beneficial to themselves or their associates which they might have been at liberty to pursue in the absence of the statute. P. 254 U. S. 468.
7. Section 6 of the Clayton Act, in declaring that nothing in the antitrust laws shall be construed to forbid the existence and operation of labor organizations or to forbid their members from lawfully carrying out the legitimate objects thereof, and that such organizations or their members shall not be construed to be illegal combinations or conspiracies in restraint of trade, assumes that the normal objects of such organizations are legitimate, but contains nothing
to exempt them or their members from accountability when they depart from objects that are normal and legitimate and engage in an actual combination or conspiracy in restraint of trade. It does not authorize any activity otherwise unlawful, or enable a normally lawful organization to cloak such an illegal combination or conspiracy. P. 254 U. S. 468.
8. The first paragraph of § 20 of the Clayton Act -- which provides that injunctions shall not be granted in any case between an employer and employees, etc., growing out of a dispute concerning the terms and conditions of employment, unless necessary to prevent irreparable injury to property, or to a property right, of the party making the application, for which injury there is no adequate remedy at law, and that such property right must be described with particularity in the application, which must be in writing and sworn to by the applicant or by his agent or attorney -- is merely declaratory of the law as it stood before. P. 254 U. S. 469.
9. The second paragraph of 20 of the Clayton Act, which provides that "no such . . . injunction shall prohibit" certain specified acts, manifestly refers to injunctions in any case of the character mentioned in the paragraph preceding, namely, "a case between an employer and employees . . . involving, or growing out of, a dispute concerning terms or conditions of employment;" and the concluding words of the second paragraph, "nor shall any of the acts specified in this paragraph be considered or held to be violations of any law of the United States," are to be read in the light of the context, and mean only that those acts are not to be so held when committed by parties concerned in a "dispute concerning terms or conditions of employment." P. 254 U. S. 469.
10. As the section imposes an exceptional and extraordinary restriction upon the equity powers of the federal courts, and upon the general operation of the antitrust laws, conferring a special privilege or immunity upon a particular class to the detriment of the general public, the rules of statutory construction forbid that the privilege be enlarged by resorting to a loose construction or by ignoring or slighting the qualifying words of the section. P. 254 U. S. 471.
11. This section confines the exceptional privilege to those who are proximately and substantially concerned in an actual dispute respecting the terms or conditions of their own employment, past, present or prospective; it does not use the words "employers and employees" in a general class sense, or treat all the members of a labor organization as parties to a dispute which proximately affects but a few of them. Pp. 254 U. S. 471 et seq.
12. That the Clayton Act was not intended to legalize the secondary boycott is shown by its legislative history. P. 254 U. S. 474.
13. In construing an act of Congress, debates expressing views and motives of individual members may not be resorted to, but reports of committees and explanatory statement in the nature of a supplemental report made by the committee member in charge of the bill in course of passage, may. Id.
252 Fed.Rep. 722, reversed.
The case is stated in the opinion.
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