Wis. Dept. of Indus. v. Gould, Inc.,
Annotate this Case
475 U.S. 282 (1986)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Wis. Dept. of Indus. v. Gould, Inc., 475 U.S. 282 (1986)
Wisconsin Department of Industry, Labor and
Human Relations v. Gould, Inc.
Argued December 9, 1985
Decided February 26, 1986
475 U.S. 282
A Wisconsin statute debars persons or firms who have violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) three times within a 5-year period from doing business with the State. The debarment lasts for three years. After appellee was debarred in 1982, it filed an action for injunctive and declaratory relief in Federal District Court, claiming, inter alia, that the Wisconsin statute was preempted by the NLRA. T he court agreed and granted summary judgment for appellee. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
Held: The NLRA preempts the Wisconsin debarment statute. Pp. 475 U. S. 286-291.
(a) States are prevented not only from setting forth standards of conduct inconsistent with the NLRA's substantive requirements, but also from providing their own regulatory or judicial remedies for conduct prohibited or arguably prohibited by the NLRA. Because the Wisconsin debarment statute functions as a supplemental sanction for violations of the NLRA, it conflicts with the National Labor Relations Board's comprehensive regulation of industrial relations in precisely the same way as would a prohibition against private parties within the State doing business with repeat labor law violators. That Wisconsin has chosen to use its spending power rather than its police power in enacting the debarment statute does not significantly lessen the inherent potential for conflict when two separate remedies are brought to bear on the same activity. Pp. 475 U. S. 286-289.
(b) Although state action in the nature of "market participation" is not subject to the restrictions placed on state regulatory power by the Commerce Clause, Wisconsin, by prohibiting state purchases from repeat labor law violators, is not functioning as a private purchaser; its debarment scheme is tantamount to regulation. In any event, the "market participant" doctrine reflects the particular concerns underlying the Commerce Clause, not any general notion regarding the necessary extent of state power in areas where Congress has acted, as it has here in enacting the NLRA. This is not a case where a State's spending policies address conduct that is of such "peripheral concern" to the NLRA, or that implicates "interests so deeply rooted in local feeling and responsibility" that preemption should not be inferred. Nor is it a case where spending determinations that bear on labor relations were intentionally left to
the States by Congress. The manifest purpose and inevitable effect of the Wisconsin debarment scheme is to enforce the requirements of the NLRA. Pp. 475 U. S. 289-291. 750 F.2d 608, affirmed.
BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.