TRUAX V. CORRIGAN, 257 U. S. 312 (1921)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Truax v. Corrigan, 257 U.S. 312 (1921)

Truax v. Corrigan

No. 13

Argued April 29, 30, 1920

Restored to docket for reargument June 6, 1921

Reargued October 5, 6, 1921

Decided December 19, 1921

257 U.S. 312


1. Where the issue is whether a state statute, in its application to facts specifically alleged and admitted by demurrer, violates the plaintiff's rights under the Constitution, this Court must analyze the facts as averred and draw its own inferences as to their ultimate effect; it is not bound by the state court's conclusion in this regard, nor by that court's declaration that the statute is merely a rule of evidence. P. 257 U. S. 324.

2. The bill showed in substance that the defendants, for the purpose of winning a strike called by the defendant labor union over terms and conditions of employment in plaintiffs' restaurant, conspired to injure or destroy the business by inducing actual and prospective customers to withhold their patronage, and to that end caused the restaurant to be picketed by men who, throughout business hours, were stationed at the entrance proclaiming in a loud voice its "unfairness" to union labor, and who patrolled the sidewalk before it and, by word of mouth and through banners and handbills, made and circulated abusive and libelous attacks upon the plaintiffs, their business, their employees and customers, with threats of like consequences to future customers, and that much injury to the business resulted. Held that the bill stated a plain case of conspiracy and actionable wrong. P. 257 U. S. 327.

3. If, as it seems to have been interpreted by the Supreme Court of Arizona, the law of that state (Rev.Stats., 1913, par. 1464) regulating injunctions in labor controversies grants the defendants in this case immunity from any civil or criminal action for the wrongs above stated, or leaves them merely subject to criminal prosecution for libel, it violates the Fourteenth Amendment by depriving the plaintiffs of their property without due process of law. P. 257 U. S. 328.

4. The legislative power of a state can only be exerted in subordination to the fundamental principles of right and justice which

Page 257 U. S. 313

the guaranty of due process in the Fourteenth Amendment is intended to preserve, and a purely arbitrary or capricious exercise of that power, whereby a wrongful and highly injurious invasion of property rights is practically sanctioned and the owner stripped of all real remedy, is wholly at variance with those principles. P. 257 U. S. 329. New York Central R. Co. v. White, 243 U. S. 188, distinguished.

5. The distinction between peaceful secondary boycotts and the present case considered. P. 257 U. S. 330.

6. The relations of the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment considered. P. 257 U. S. 331.

7. The equal protection clause was aimed at undue favor and individual or class privilege, on the one hand, and at hostile discrimination or the oppression of inequality, on the other; it secures equality of protection not only for all, but against all, similarly situated; it is a pledge of the protection of equal laws. P. 257 U. S. 332.

8. Assuming that a state legislature may vary equitable relief in the state courts at its discretion, and even take away their equity jurisdiction altogether, the equality clause forbids that it deny such relief to one man while granting it to another under like circumstances and in the same territorial jurisdiction. P. 257 U. S. 334.

9. A state law which specially exempts ex-employees, when committing tortious and irreparable injury to the business of their former employer, from restraint by injunction, while leaving subject to such restraint all other tortfeasors engaged in like wrongdoing, is unreasonable and without any just relation to the acts in respect of which it is proposed. P. 257 U. S. 337.

10. Such a classification cannot be upheld as a legalized experiment in sociology; the very purpose of the Constitution was to prevent experimentation with the fundamental rights of the individual. P. 257 U. S. 338. Second Employers' Liability Cases, 223 U. S. 1; New York Central R. Co. v. White, supra, and similar cases distinguished.

11. In view of the construction placed by the state court upon Ariz.Rev.Stats., 1913, par. 1464, in this case, and because the equal protection clause applies only to state action, the conclusion that the statute is in part unconstitutional does not mean that § 20 of the Clayton Act, an act of Congress similarly worded but very differently construed, is also invalid. P. 257 U. S. 340. Cf. American Steel Foundries v. Tri-City Central Trades Council, ante, 257 U. S. 184.

12. Paragraph 1456, Ariz.Rev.Stats., 1913, making general provision for issuance of injunctions, is separable from par. 1464, supra, having been adopted by the Territory and continued by

Page 257 U. S. 314

the state constitution as a state law before par. 1464 was enacted as an amendment, and the unconstitutionality of the latter does not affect the continued operation of the former. P. 257 U. S. 341. Connolly v. Union Sewer Pipe Co., 184 U. S. 540, distinguished.

20 Ariz. 7 reversed.

Error to review a decree of the Supreme Court of Arizona which affirmed a decree of the Superior Court of Cochise County dismissing upon demurrer the complaint of the present plaintiffs in error in their suit to restrain the defendants from committing the acts described in the opinion.

Page 257 U. S. 320

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