Gompers v. Buck's Stove & Range Co.

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221 U.S. 418 (1911), argued 27 and 30 Jan. 1911, decided 15 May 1911 by vote of 9 to 0; Lamar for the Court. When workers struck the Buck's Stove Company, the American Federation of Labor organized a boycott of the company's products. The manufacturer secured an injunction against the boycott, from which the union planned an appeal. Before it could do so the company sought a criminal contempt citation against Samuel Gompers and two other union leaders, claiming that they had violated the injunction by publishing the company's name on its “Unfair” and “We don’t patronize” lists in The American Federationist. The defendants appealed the citation, claiming that what they printed in the paper was protected speech under the First Amendment, an argument the Court completely ignored. While he reversed the criminal contempt citation on a technicality, Justice Joseph Lamar's opinion made it clear that the Court sided with employers in their battles against labor. Lamar cited approvingly one case after another to demonstrate that the courts frowned on any action, including speech, that injured property rights.

Melvin I. Urofsky

Subjects: Law.

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