Knoxville Times-Sentinel/April 2, 1942
NEW YORK April 2 — We can gain nothing by ignoring the leering cynicism of the majority decision of the Supreme Court in the so-called Teamsters Case, one of those foredoomed Thurman Arnold prosecutions, wherein it was held again that no criminal act of a union or its members, acting as such, is beyond the privilege of such predatory bands provided that they are pursuing a legitimate aim of a bona fide union.
The fact must be faced that this court is now strongly committed in sympathy with criminality by unioneers and grants them the right to assault, rob and otherwise abuse law-abiding citizens. This attitude was expressed in the Carpenters’ case in an opinion by Felix Frankfurter and has now been affirmed but with bolder emphasis in a majority with bolder opinion by Jimmy Byrnes who always seemed a rather decent citizen when he was in the Senate. The Carpenters’ opinion was just what might have been expected of Frankfurter, but Byrnes had given no previous indication that he might ever hand down from the Supreme Court any such brutal dictum as he put his name to in vindicating thuggery and highway robbery as permissible methods of compelling honest citizens to submit.
The decisions of themselves are bad enough but they are so much the worse when it is realized that the policy which they express, the recognition of vice as a weapon of ostensible virtue, will now be accepted by judges in the lower courts who go by the theory that, whatever their own abhorrence, they must follow the Supreme Court.
Arnold Does His Best
IT is tragic that in such a time as this, indeed in any time, the American people should receive from their highest court the shocking news that any group has the right to slug and rob, threaten, and possibly kill unoffending citizens in the furtherance of its own special aims, however noble those aims might be. But the fact must be faced that this is the policy of the Government and the Supreme Court. It is written and rewritten in two important decisions which challenge Congress now to repudiate these dangerous men with legislation disavowing the evil intent which the court has read into the supplementary anti-trust and anti-racketeering laws. Probably most Americans would prefer to believe that these decisions do not mean what they plainly say and thus to retain an artificial confidence in the Supreme Court. That would be a fool’s confidence, however. The decisions and opinions are plain and the court is unmistakably and defiantly on the side of the thug and imputes this intent to Congress.
It becomes plainer day by day that Thurman Arnold was put up to his job of prosecuting union racketeers as a fake gesture by the Administration. He selects strong and outrageous cases, prepares them carefully and tries them well but is licked before he starts because even though he wins all the way up to the Supreme Court, he doesn’t stand a Chinaman’s chance there. Thus the Administration, pal and patron of the brutal goon, thief and extortioner, may say for the political record that it fairly tried these cases and is not responsible for the failure of Congress to correct evils which no Congress could have intended to write into any law but which the Supreme Court finds there nevertheless. By election time it will be seen whether the present Congress intends to submit to this insulting and degrading declaration of the court.
Affront to the People
IN this Teamsters’ case it was shown, and Chief Justice Stone in his dissenting opinion observed, that members of the Teamsters’ Union waylaid trucks approaching New York from New Jersey and Connecticut and, by beating or by threats, compelled the operators to pay them a toll of $942 for a large truck or $841 for a small one for permission to enter the city. It was shown and Justice Stone held that such payments were made “only to secure immunity from violence” and, to the fading honor of the court, he added his disbelief that any member of Congress had the temerity to say that payment so made could be regarded as wages by an employer or that the compulsion of such payments is a legitimate object of a labor union.
Byrnes and his concurring colleagues, on the other hand, had the cynical gall to say that in such circumstances the extortioner becomes a bona fide employee of a bona fide employer and even granted immunity under the racketeering act to “an outsider,” meaning one not employed by the victim, “who attempts unsuccessfully, by violent means, to achieve the status of an employee.”
That is, in this time of war, the most dangerous of all the mocking decisions which the new court has flung in the face of Congress and the patriotic, law-abiding people of the country. It is indecent, immoral and an affront to Congress and the people.