Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America v. Richman Brothers

In Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America v. Richman Brothers, 348 U.S. 511, 75 S.Ct. 452, 754, 99 L.Ed. 600 (1955), the Supreme Court had before it the meaning and applicability of Section 2283 of the Judicial Code. The court reaffirmed the hands-off policy of Toucey and prescribed rules for construing Section 2283 hardly less inflexible than the rules Toucey prescribed for Section 265. An employer had filed suit in a state court to enjoin peaceful picketing by a union. The union, to avoid delays incident to opposing a permanent injunction and to appealing through the state courts, brought suit in a federal district court to restrain the employer from pursuing state court action. The Supreme Court assumed that the state court lacked jurisdiction over the union's picketing. The union argued that Section 2283 was not intended to apply when the subject matter is exclusively within the federal system; exclusive jurisdiction was vested with the National Labor Relations Board. The union argued also that if Section 2283 were applicable, the action would fall within the statutory exceptions. The Court rejected both contentions. Mr. Justice Frankfurter, for the majority, stated: "In the enactment of Section 2283 Congress made clear beyond cavil that the prohibition is not to be whittled away by judicial improvisation. We cannot accept the argument that 2283 does not apply whenever the moving party in the District Court alleges that the state court is `wholly without jurisdiction over the subject matter, having invaded a field pre-empted by Congress.' No such exception had been established by judicial decision under former 265. In any event, Congress has left no justification for its recognition now. This is not a statute conveying a broad general policy for ad hoc application. Legislative policy is here expressed in a clear-cut prohibition qualified only by specifically defined exceptions."