Labor and the Supreme Court: Significant Issues of 1992-96

By Hukill, Craig | Monthly Labor Review, January 1997 | Go to article overview

Labor and the Supreme Court: Significant Issues of 1992-96


Hukill, Craig, Monthly Labor Review


From 1992 to 1996, the High Court decided a number of cases in labor law and employment law; just as the workforce and its protections for workers have evolved, so, too, have the Court and its docket

What if the Supreme Court convened and no labor cases showed up? As unlikely as it may seem, that is precisely what happened during the High Court's 1994-95 term. This circumstance, while unusual, should not be completely surprising: over the last 30 years, the traditional conception of labor law--emphasizing labor-management relations, union organizing efforts, and internal union affairs--has evolved into a more sophisticated and expansive notion of "employment law" that encompasses a wide array of workplace-based legal protections. The Court's "workplace docket" has come to reflect this shift and occasionally has been dominated by employment law-not labor law-disputes.

A Supreme Court term without "labor" cases would have been unthinkable just three decades ago. During its 1964-65 term, for example, the Court issued approximately 100 published decisions, no fewer than 14 of which raised labor-management or internal union affairs issues.(1) The Court's emphasis on such cases at that time reflected a much different legal landscape than today, with the Court usually being asked to decide workplace issues under just a handful of Federal laws.(2) The nonagricultural work force also was more heavily unionized then, with nearly 3 in 10 workers being members of labor unions.(3)

Today, only about 15 percent of nonagricultural workers are members of unions,(4) and U.S. workers are protected from the cradle to the grave by a web of Federal laws that did not exist in the early 1960s. In many instances, the concerns that prompted Congress to enact these new laws extended far beyond the workplace itself, reflecting changes in the economy and society at large: concerns that not all Americans were being allowed to participate in the country's postwar prosperity led Congress to enact laws that barred discrimination on account of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and age;(5) concerns about the aging work force and workers' retirement security caused Congress to enact legislation to protect workers' pensions and benefits;(6) concerns regarding global competition helped increase sensitivities about dislocated workers and their communities, prompting Congress to pass legislation requiring many businesses to notify their workers and local officials of future plant closings;(7) concerns that workplaces had become too dangerous and unhealthy moved Congress to enact landmark occupational safety and health laws;(8) and concerns that workplace responsibilities should be more compatible with family life caused Congress to enact a family leave law.(9)

With the advent of these new laws, the Court's labor docket has yielded to a docket that usually includes a sprinkling of labor and employment law cases. Even so, this docket varies widely from year to year. The dearth of labor cases during the 1994-95 term is one example of this variability. Another example occurred when the Court decided five cases dealing with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act during its 1992-93 term, but just one the following term. One aspect of the Court's docket that has not changed during the last few years, however, is the downward trend in the number of full, signed opinions that are issued by the Court. Since its 1988-89 term, the Court has issued fewer opinions during each successive term. The 87 opinions that it issued during the most recent term was the Court's lowest output in at least 30 years and was exactly half the number of opinions that it had issued just a dozen years before.(10) Whether this trend will continue is anyone's guess. It stands to reason, though, that the Court will decide fewer labor and employment cases if its overall docket continues to shrink.

The Court itself, like the work force, has undergone changes in recent years, and no longer can be viewed as the "Nine Old Men. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Labor and the Supreme Court: Significant Issues of 1992-96
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.