NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.


Pursuant to the National Labor Relations Act, the defendant was convicted by the National Labor Relations Board of violating the act by violating labor practices, including discrimination in hiring, tenure, coercion, and intervening in the employee’s right to organize.  The Board ruled that the defendant had to cease all activities in violation of the Act and reinstate the employees who had been fired in violation thereof.  Defendant refused and plaintiff brought the foregoing action.  Defendant argued at trial that the Act itself was a violation of Congress’s ability to regulate interstate commerce.  The trial court agreed, thereby invalidating the Act by finding it unconstitutional.


Whether Congress can regulate the labor/manufacturing practices of particular organizations pursuant to the interstate commerce clause.


Yes, reversed, insofar as the activity “significantly” impacts interstate commerce.  Labor disputes and labor relations with management fall within this power because they “directly burden or obstruct interstate or foreign commerce, or its free flow.”

The argument that interstate commerce can be distinguished by activity with direct versus indirect impact thereon is a flawed comparison.  All commerce is interlinked.  Insofar as the impact, however “direct or indirect” can be shown to have a significant impact on inter-state commerce, the constitutional authorizes Congressional power to regulate it.  The rights sought by the Act itself have a legitimately significant impact on interstate commerce, in that an employee has a fundamental right to strike, etc.  Moreover, interstate commerce is not simply related to the product of goods; it is related to the goods’ “flow” as well.  Fundamental employee rights are essential to the flow of commerce; and the “flow” of commerce would be impacted if they were obstructed.  Insofar as Congress regulates intra-state commerce, they may do so in order to prevent obstruction of the flow. A strike by a manufacturing employee union represents an obstruction of the flow of interstate commerce.

However, Congress cannot regulate intra-state commerce that is very “indirect” or “remote.”

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