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UNITED STEELWORKERS AMERICA v. R. H. BOULIGNY

decided: November 22, 1965.

UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO
v.
R. H. BOULIGNY, INC.



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT.

Warren, Black, Douglas, Clark, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, White, Fortas

Author: Fortas

[ 382 U.S. Page 146]

 MR. JUSTICE FORTAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondent, a North Carolina corporation, brought this action in a North Carolina state court. It sought $200,000 in damages for defamation alleged to have occurred during the course of the United Steelworkers' campaign to unionize respondent's employees. The Steelworkers, an unincorporated labor union whose principal place of business purportedly is Pennsylvania, removed the case to a Federal District Court.*fn1 The union asserted not only federal-question jurisdiction, but that for purposes of the diversity jurisdiction it was a citizen of Pennsylvania, although some of its members were North Carolinians.

The corporation sought to have the case remanded to the state courts, contending that its complaint raised no federal questions and relying upon the generally prevailing principle that an unincorporated association's citizenship is that of each of its members. But the District Court retained jurisdiction. The District Judge noted "a trend to treat unincorporated associations in the same manner as corporations and to treat them as citizens of the state wherein the principal office is located." Divining "no common sense reason for treating an unincorporated national labor union differently from a corporation," he declined to follow what he styled "the poorer reasoned but more firmly established rule" of Chapman v. Barney, 129 U.S. 677.

On interlocutory appeal the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed and directed that the case be remanded

[ 382 U.S. Page 147]

     to the state courts. 336 F.2d 160. Certiorari was granted, 379 U.S. 958, so that we might decide whether an unincorporated labor union is to be treated as a citizen for purposes of federal diversity jurisdiction, without regard to the citizenship of its members.*fn2 Because we believe this properly a matter for legislative consideration which cannot adequately or appropriately be dealt with by this Court, we affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals.

Article III, § 2, of the Constitution provides:

"The judicial Power shall extend . . . to Controversies . . . between Citizens of different States . . . ."

Congress lost no time in implementing the grant. In 1789 it provided for federal jurisdiction in suits "between a citizen of the State where the suit is brought, and a citizen of another State."*fn3 There shortly arose the question as to whether a corporation -- a creature of state law -- is to be deemed a "citizen" for purposes of the statute. This Court, through Chief Justice Marshall, initially responded in the negative, holding that a corporation was not a "citizen" and that it might sue and be sued under the diversity statute only if none of its shareholders was a co-citizen of any opposing party.

[ 382 U.S. Page 148]

     It was in this climate that the Court in 1889 decided Chapman v. Barney, supra. On its own motion the Court observed that plaintiff was a joint stock company and not a corporation or natural person. It held that although plaintiff was endowed by New York with capacity to sue, it ...


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