CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.
Warren, Black, Frankfurter, Douglas, Clark, Harlan, Brennan, Whittaker, Stewart
MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.
The respondents, who are the owner, time charterer, and master of the Liberian registered vessel, S. S. Nikolos, brought this action in a United States District Court against the petitioner union and its members praying for
temporary and permanent injunctions to restrain, and for damages allegedly suffered from, the union's peaceful picketing of the ship in American waters and its threats to picket shore consignees of the ship's cargo should they accept delivery. The union's sole contention was that the District Court was without jurisdiction to restrain the picketing because of the Norris-LaGuardia Act which states in § 1:
"That no court of the United States, as herein defined, shall have jurisdiction to issue any restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction in a case involving or growing out of a labor dispute, except in a strict conformity with the provisions of this Act; nor shall any such restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction be issued contrary to the public policy declared in this Act."*fn1
Section 4 of that same law specifically denies jurisdiction to District Courts to issue any restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction to prohibit unions from:
"(e) Giving publicity to the existence of, or the facts involved in, any labor dispute, whether by advertising, speaking, patrolling, or by any other method not involving fraud or violence . . . ."*fn2
Notwithstanding these provisions of the Norris-LaGuardia Act and despite an express finding that the union and its members had not been guilty of fraud, and had not threatened or committed any acts of physical violence to any person or any property, the District Court issued a
temporary injunction to restrain the picketing.*fn3 The injunction prohibited picketing by the petitioner union of "the SS 'Nikolos' or any other vessel registered under a foreign flag and manned by an alien crew and owned, operated or chartered by" respondents, in the Puget Sound area. This action of the court was based on its conclusions that (a) the case did not involve or grow out of any labor dispute within the meaning of the Norris-LaGuardia Act and (b) even if there were a labor dispute within the meaning of that Act, the court had jurisdiction to restrain the picketing because it interfered in the internal economy of a vessel registered under the flag of a friendly foreign power and amounted to an "unlawful interference with foreign commerce."*fn4 The court's conclusion rested on the following facts, about which there was no substantial dispute.
The petitioner and other national labor organizations act as bargaining representatives for most of the unlicensed personnel of vessels that fly the American flag on the Pacific Coast. Petitioner alone, pursuant to National Labor Relations Board certification, represents employees of the stewards' department on a large majority of those vessels. The S. S. Nikolos is owned by a Liberian corporation, was time-chartered for this trip by another Liberian corporation, and all members of its crew were aliens working under employment contracts made outside this country. There was no labor dispute between the ship's employees and the ship. The Nikolos picked up a cargo of salt in Mexico and carried it to the harbor of the port of Tacoma, ...