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Cooper v. Aaron

358 U.S. 1 (1958)

tl;dr: Affirms judicial supremacy as first hinted to by Marbury v. Madison.

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The case of "Leedom et al., Members of the National Labor Relations Board, v. Kyne" involved a dispute over the National Labor Relations Act's Section 9(b)(1), which prohibits the inclusion of both professional and nonprofessional employees in a bargaining unit unless a majority of professional employees vote for inclusion. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) included both types of employees in a bargaining unit without taking a vote among professional employees. The case concerned the Buffalo Section, Westinghouse Engineers Association, Engineers and Scientists of America, a labor organization, seeking certification as the exclusive collective bargaining agent for nonsupervisory professional employees of Westinghouse Electric Corporation at its Cheektowaga plant. The NLRB allowed a competing labor organization to intervene, which requested the expansion of the unit to include employees in five other categories. The NLRB included nine employees in three of those categories in the unit because they shared a close community of employment interests with the professional employees. The Association requested a vote among professional employees to determine whether they favored inclusion of nonprofessional employees, but the NLRB denied the request and included both types of employees in the unit. An election was held, and the Association was certified as the collective bargaining agent for the unit. The majority opinion, written by Mr. Justice Whittaker, discussed the Board's decision to include both types of employees in the bargaining unit without taking a vote among professional employees and whether a Federal District Court had jurisdiction to vacate the Board's decision for exceeding its powers. It is important to note that the lower court erred in this case by not recognizing the NLRB's overreach of its powers.

The NLRB violated § 9 (b)(1) by including professional employees in a unit with nonprofessional employees without their consent. The District Court has jurisdiction over an original suit to prevent deprivation of a right caused by the Labor Board's unlawful action. The Court rejected the argument that no remedy was given for a congressionally created right. Justices Brennan and Frankfurter dissent, arguing that Congress intended to restrict judicial review of National Labor Relations Board representation certifications to review in the Courts of Appeals. The Court's decision goes against the original intent of the Taft-Hartley amendments. Direct judicial review of a Board's interpretation of the statute can be just as drawn out and frustrative of national policy as review of any other type of Board decision.

Congress did not intend for District Courts to have direct judicial review of Board errors in statutory interpretation. The NLRB is intended to be the sole authority in determining certification controversies, with limited judicial review in Court of Appeals. The legislative history of the Act shows the intent to limit judicial enforcement of the rights created. The author would reverse and remand the case to the District Court to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction.

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Cooper v. Aaron

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