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decided: March 28, 1938.



Hughes, McReynolds, Brandeis, Butler, Stone, Roberts, Black, Reed; Mr. Justice Cardozo took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Roberts

[ 303 U.S. Page 554]

 MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS delivered the opinion of the Court.

The matter in controversy is whether the case made by the pleadings involves or grows out of a labor dispute within the meaning of ยง 13 of the Norris-La Guardia Act.*fn1

The respondent, by bill filed in the District Court of the District of Columbia, sought an injunction restraining the petitioners and their agents from picketing its stores and engaging in other activities injurious to its business. The petitioners answered, the cause was heard upon bill and answer, and an injunction was awarded. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the decree.*fn2 The importance of the question presented and asserted conflict with the decisions of this and other federal courts moved us to grant certiorari.

[ 303 U.S. Page 555]

     As the case was heard upon the bill and a verified answer the facts upon which decision must rest are those set forth in the bill and admitted or not denied by the answer and those affirmatively set up in the answer.

The following facts alleged in the bill are admitted by the answer. Respondent, a Delaware corporation, operates 255 retail grocery, meat, and vegetable stores, a warehouse and a bakery in the District of Columbia and employs both white and colored persons. April 3, 1936, it opened a new store at 1936 Eleventh Street, N. W., installing personnel having an acquaintance with the trade in the vicinity. Petitioner, The New Negro Alliance, is a corporation composed of colored persons, organized for the mutual improvement of its members and the promotion of civic, educational, benevolent, and charitable enterprises. The individual petitioners are officers of the corporation. The relation of employer and employes does not exist between the respondent and the petitioners or any of them. The petitioners are not engaged in any business competitive with that of the respondent, and the officers, members, or representatives of the Alliance are not engaged in the same business or occupation as the respondent or its employes.

As to other matters of fact, the state of the pleadings may be briefly summarized. The bill asserts: the petitioners have made arbitrary and summary demands upon the respondent that it engage and employ colored persons in managerial and sales positions in the new store and in various other stores; it is essential to the conduct of the business that respondent employ experienced persons in its stores and compliance with the arbitrary demands of defendants would involve the discharge of white employes and their replacement with colored; it is imperative that respondent be free in the selection and control of persons employed by it without interference by the petitioners

[ 303 U.S. Page 556]

     or others; petitioners have written respondent letters threatening boycott and ruination of its business and notices that by means of announcements, meetings and advertising the petitioners will circulate statements that respondent is unfair to colored people and to the colored race and, contrary to fact, that respondent does not employ colored persons; respondent has not acceded to these demands. The answer admits the respondent has not acceded to the petitioners' demands, but denies the other allegations and states that the Alliance and its agents have requested only that respondent, in the regular course of personnel changes in its retail stores, give employment to Negroes as clerks, particularly in stores patronized largely by colored people; that the petitioners have not requested the discharge of white employes nor sought action which would involve their discharge. It denies the making of the threats described and alleges the only representations threatened by the Alliance or its authorized agents are true representations that named stores of the respondent do not employ Negroes as sales persons and that the petitioners have threatened no more than the use of lawful and peaceable persuasion of members of the community to withhold patronage from particular stores after the respondent's refusal to acknowledge petitioner's requests that it adopt a policy of employing Negro clerks in such stores in the regular course of personnel changes.

The bill further alleges that the petitioners and their authorized representatives "have unlawfully conspired with each other to picket, patrol, boycott, and ruin the Plaintiff's business in said stores, and particularly in the store located at 1936 Eleventh Street, Northwest" and, "in an effort to fulfill their threats of coercion and intimidation, actually have caused the said store to be picketed or patrolled ...

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