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January 5, 1915



White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Hughes, Van Devanter, Lamar, Pitney, McReynolds

Author: Holmes

[ 235 U.S. Page 533]

 MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the court.

This is an action under the act of July 2, 1890, c. 647, § 7, 26 Stat. 209, 210, for a combination and conspiracy in restraint of commerce among the States, specifically directed against the plaintiffs (defendants in error), among others, and effectively carried out with the infliction of great damage. The declaration was held good on demurrer in Loewe v. Lawlor, 208 U.S. 274, where it will be found set forth at length. The substance of the charge is that the plaintiffs were hat manufacturers who employed nonunion labor; that the defendants were members of the United Hatters of North America and also of the American Federation of Labor; that in pursuance of a general scheme to unionize the labor employed by manufacturers of fur hats (a purpose previously made effective against all but a few manufacturers), the defendants and other members of the United Hatters caused the American Federation of Labor to declare a boycott against the plaintiffs and against all hats sold by the plaintiffs to dealers in other States and against dealers who should deal in them; and that they carried out their plan with such success that they have restrained or destroyed the plaintiff's commerce with other States. The case now has been tried,

[ 235 U.S. Page 534]

     the plaintiffs have got a verdict and the judgment of the District Court has been affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals. 209 Fed. Rep. 721; 126 C. C. A. 445.

The grounds for discussion under the statute that were not cut away by the decision upon the demurrer have been narrowed still further since the trial by the case of Eastern States Retail Lumber Dealers' Association v. United States, 234 U.S. 600. Whatever may be the law otherwise, that case establishes that, irrespective of compulsion or even agreement to observe its intimation, the circulation of a list of 'unfair dealers,' manifestly intended to put the ban upon those whose names appear therein, among an important body of possible customers combined with a view to joint action and in anticipation of such reports, is within the prohibitions of the Sherman Act if it is intended to restrain and restrains commerce among the States.

It requires more than the blindness of justice not to see that many branches of the United Hatters and the Federation of Labor, to both of which the defendants belonged, in pursuance of a plan emanating from headquarters made use of such lists, and of the primary and secondary boycott in their effort to subdue the plaintiffs to their demands. The union label was used and a strike of the plaintiffs' employes was ordered and carried out to the same end, and the purpose to break up the plaintiffs' commerce affected the quality of the acts. Loewe v. Lawlor, 208 U.S. 274, 299. We agree with the Circuit Court of Appeals that a combination and conspiracy forbidden by the statute were proved, and that the question is narrowed to the responsibility of the defendants for what was done by the sanction and procurement of the societies above named.

The court in substance instructed the jury that if these members paid their dues and continued to delegate authority to their officers unlawfully to interfere with the

[ 235 U.S. Page 535]

     plaintiffs' interstate commerce in such circumstances that they knew or ought to have known, and such officers were warranted in the belief that they were acting in the matters within their delegated authority, then such members were jointly liable, and no others. It seems to us that this instruction sufficiently guarded the defendants' rights, and that the defendants got all that they were entitled to ask in not being held chargeable with knowledge as matter of law. It is a tax on credulity to ask anyone to believe that members of labor unions at that time did not know that the primary and secondary boycott and the use of the 'We don't patronize' or 'Unfair' list were means expected to be employed in the effort to unionize shops. Very possibly they were thought to be lawful. See Gompers v. United States, 233 U.S. 604. By the Constitution of the United Hatters the directors are to use 'all the means in their power' to bring shops 'not under our jurisdiction' 'into the trade.' The by-laws provide a separate fund to be kept for strikes, lockouts, and agitation for the union label. Members are forbidden to sell non-union hats. The Federation of Labor with which the Hatters were affiliated had organization of labor for one of its objects, helped affiliated unions in trade disputes, and to that end, before the present trouble, had provided in its constitution for prosecuting and had prosecuted many what it called legal boycotts. Their conduct in this and former cases was made public especially among the members in every possible way. If the words of the documents on their face and without explanation did not authorize what was done, the evidence of what was done publicly and habitually showed their meaning and how they were interpreted. The jury could not but find that by the usage of the unions the acts complained of were authorized, and authorized without regard to their interference with commerce among the States. We think it unnecessary to repeat the evidence of the publicity of this particular

[ 235 U.S. Page 536]

     struggle in the common newspapers and union prints, evidence that made it almost inconceivable that the defendants, all living in the neighborhood of the plaintiffs, did not know what was done in the specific case. If they did not know that, they were bound to know the constitution of their societies, and at least well might ...

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