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NLRB V. NASH-FINCH CO., 404 U. S. 138 (1971)

U.S. Supreme Court

NLRB v. Nash-Finch Co., 404 U.S. 138 (1971)

NLRB v. Nash-Finch Co.

No. 70-93

Argued October 19, 1971

Decided December 8, 1971

404 U.S. 138


A union which had begun organizing respondent company's employees charged the company with unfair labor practices. The General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint, which a Trial Examiner sustained, recommending that respondent be ordered to cease and desist from such practices. Before the NLRB acted, the union picketed respondent's stores and respondent, contending that the union's action violated state law, sought and obtained an injunction from a state court limiting the union's picketing activities. Subsequently the NLRB issued an order accepting the Trial Examiner's recommendations and then brought this action in District Court to restrain enforcement of the state court injunction on the ground that it regulated conduct governed exclusively by the National Labor Relations Act. The District Court held that it was precluded from granting relief by 28 U.S.C. § 2283, which prohibits a federal court from enjoining state court proceedings except as authorized by Act of Congress "or where necessary in aid of its jurisdiction, or to protect or effectuate its judgments." The court rejected the contention that the NLRB was within the exception recognized in Leiter Minerals, Inc. v. United States, 352 U. S. 220, for suits brought by the United States. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, for purposes of § 2283, the NLRB is "an administrative agency of the United States, and is not the United States."


1. Since the action here does not seek to restrain unfair labor practices against which the NLRB had issued its complaint, but is based on the general doctrine of preemption, the exception in § 2283 for matters "necessary in aid of its jurisdiction" is inapplicable. Capital Service, Inc. v. NLRB, 347 U. S. 501, distinguished. Pp. 404 U. S. 141-142.

2. For the purpose of preventing frustration of the National Labor Relations Act, the NLRB has an implied authority to obtain a federal injunction against state court action preempted by the

Page 404 U. S. 139

Act; such an injunction falls within the exception to § 2283 recognized in Leiter Minerals, Inc., supra, for suits brought by the United States, and the fact that the party moving for an injunction is a federal agency, and not the Attorney General, is irrelevant. Bowles v. Willingham, 321 U. S. 503. Pp. 404 U. S. 142-148.

434 F.2d 971, revered and remanded.

DOUGLAS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, MARSHALL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 404 U. S. 148, in Part I of which BRENNAN, J., joined, post, p. 404 U. S. 156.

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