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Hazelton v. Murray

March 5, 1956


On appeal from Superior Court, Chancery Division, certified to this court on its own motion.

For affirmance -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Heher, Oliphant, Wachenfeld, Burling, Jacobs and Brennan. For reversal -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by William J. Brennan, Jr., J.


[21 NJ Page 116] James Calabrese, convicted in 1949 of a crime equivalent to a high misdemeanor and not since pardoned or otherwise relieved of the disabilities arising therefrom, was, on August 5, 1954, elected financial secretary and treasurer of Local 1247 of the International Longshoremen's Association. In this action the Chancery Division entered a judgment which restrains Calabrese from exercising the powers and duties of the office and declares that the same is vacant and shall be filled in accord with the constitution, by-laws and rules of order of the International Longshoremen's Association. Calabrese appealed to the Appellate Division, and we certified the appeal here on our own motion.

Judge Stanton, of the Chancery Division, entered the judgment for the reason, recited therein, that " Revised Statutes of New Jersey, Title 32:23-80 prohibits the collection of union funds by persons disqualified by virtue of the conviction of crimes equivalent to high misdemeanor and * * * said statute represents a valid and legal exercise of the police power of the State of New Jersey * * *." The statute, which is section 8 of Part III of the Waterfront Commission Act, L. 1953, c. 202, c. 203, N.J.S.A. 32:23-1 to 32:23-98, reads as follows:

"ยง 8. Collection of funds for unions having officers or agents who are felons. No person shall solicit, collect or receive any dues, assessments, levies, fines or contributions, or other charges within the State of New Jersey from employees registered or licensed pursuant to the provisions of this act for or on behalf of any labor organization representing any such employees if any officer or agent of such organization has been convicted by a court of the United States, or any State or territory thereof, of treason, murder, manslaughter or any felony, high misdemeanor or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, unless he has been subsequently pardoned therefor by the Governor or other appropriate authority of the State or jurisdiction in which such conviction was had or has received a certificate of good conduct or other relief from disabilities arising from the fact of conviction from a board of parole or similar authority.

As used in this section, the term 'labor organization' shall mean and include any organization which exists and is constituted for the purpose in whole or in part of collective bargaining, or of dealing with employers concerning grievances, terms and conditions of employment, or of other mutual aid or protection; but it shall not include a federation or congress of labor organizations organized on a national or international basis even though one of its constituent labor organizations may represent persons so registered or licensed.

Any person who shall violate this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of five hundred dollars ($500.00) or imprisonment for one year, or both."

Our Waterfront Commission Act is the counterpart of the statute of the same name contemporaneously adopted by the State of New York, New York Laws 1953, c. 882, c. 883, McKinney's Unconsolidated Laws, sections 6700 aa -6700 zz. The act has three parts. Part I is a compact of sixteen articles entered into by the two states with the consent of the Congress of the United States as required by Art. I, sec. 10

of the Federal Constitution. 67 Stat. 541, Act August 12, 1953, c. 407. Part II is primarily concerned with the details of the administration of a plan for assessments against employers to meet the expenses of administration of the bi-state Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor created by the compact. Part III contains provisions supplemental to and in aid of the compact articles and includes the section here in question.

Appellant's brief is limited to constitutional questions. He does not question the trial court's construction of section 32:23-80. We therefore assume that Calabrese is satisfied that the terms of the statute, as was held below, disqualified him from functioning as an officer of the labor organization and justified the restraint against him and the declaration that the office is vacant. We shall consider and decide the constitutional questions in relation to the statute as so construed.

Unconstitutionality of the section is urged upon the grounds first, that the compact and the section invade constitutionally secured individual rights -- that it is an ex post facto law, a law in the nature of a bill of attainder, a law which imposes cruel and inhuman punishment; second, that due process is denied him in disqualifying him for the union office without affording him an opportunity to show his fitness therefor despite the conviction; third, that his disqualification for the office because of the conviction is not reasonably and substantially related to the ends sought to be attained by the compact and so the section must be deemed unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious and violative of rights secured by the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments to the Federal Constitution; fourth, that the members of the union are denied the equal protection of the laws because of the restriction upon their rights guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act to select representatives of their own choosing; and fifth, that the Congressional consent to the compact was invalid because inhibited by Art. I, sec. 9, clause 6 of the Federal Constitution providing that "No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the

Ports of one State over those of another * * *" -- this because the compact provides for assessments against employers to defray the expenses of administration of the Waterfront Commission.

None of these grounds has substance. The United States Supreme Court has recently sustained federal court decisions adjudging that the Compact Act in its entirety is a reasonable exercise of the police power of the States of New York and New Jersey and thus has established the invulnerability of section 32:23-80 to all of the grounds of attack leveled against it by appellant. Linehan v. Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, 116 F. Supp. 683 (D.C.S.D., N.Y. 1953); Staten Island Loaders v. Waterfront Commission, 117 F. Supp. 308 (D.C.S.D., N.Y. 1953). Both decisions were affirmed without majority opinion in 347 U.S. 439, 74 S. Ct. 623, 98 L. Ed. 826 (1954). See also Bradley v. Waterfront Comm. of New York Harbor, 130 F. Supp. 303 (D.C.S.D., N.Y. 1955), O'Rourke v. Waterfront Commission, 118 F. Supp. 236 (D.C.S.D., N.Y. 1954). Especially pertinent is the holding in Linehan that there is no constitutional infirmity in the provisions of the compact authorizing the Waterfront Commission in its discretion to deny registration to longshoremen who have been found guilty of specified crimes. "Since we hold the Act is within the police power of the State, the numerous objections to it generally based on violations of the Constitution would all seem to be without foundation. This is a new type of regulation, drawn to meet an emergency and reasonably related to the public interest." 116 F. Supp., at page 685.

There are a number of provisions of the compact which give special significance to the conviction of crime as a consideration in determining eligibility for waterfront work. Under N.J.S.A. 32:23-14 no application for a license to act as pier superintendent or hiring agent may be granted "if the prospective licensee has, without subsequent pardon, been convicted" of a crime mentioned therein unless the Commission, in ...

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