Law and Politics: Occasional Papers of Felix Frankfurter, 1913-1938

By Archibald MacLeish; E. F. Prichard Jr. et al. | Go to book overview

The Labor Injunction

This selection is from an article contributed by Mr. Frankfurter and Mr. Nathan Greene, the latter of theNew York Bar, to the Encyclopedia of the Social Sciencesin 1932 (Vol. VIII, p. 653) and is reprinted by permission of the Macmillan Company, publishers. Two years earlier the same authors had completed their book, The Labor Injunction.

THE USE of the injunction in industrial controversies gives as striking an illustration as the law affords of the truth that in the domain of ideas, no less than in the biological world, an organism cannot be torn from the context of its environment without destroying its meaning. Abstractly the labor injunction is merely the application of a generalized legal idea to particular circumstances. But these introduce social and economic factors which give the injunction a unique setting and create for it an essentially new situation.

The injunction is the powerful and staple device of the equity side of Anglo-American legal administration. The first authoritative resort to this remedy in a controversy between employer and employees was made by an English court. But the innovation did not take root in its native soil. Until its recent formal revival in England the labor injunction has remained a chapter of distinctively American law. As in other fields of social endeavor American influence has, however, penetrated into Canada. While as late as 1896 the chief justice of Massachusetts could say in opposing a labor injunction sanctioned by his court that the "practice of issuing injunctions in cases of this kind is of very recent origin" . . . the idea once transplanted to America has burgeoned exuberantly.

. . . . . . .

-222-

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