Contempt of Court in Labor Injunction Cases

By Cleon Oliphant Swayzee | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
LEGISLATIVE STEPS TOWARD REVISION

Historical Review . The first attempt to restrict the powers of the Federal courts in the matter of punishing for contempt growing out of violations of labor injunctions seems to have been made in 1895, at which time Mr. Bartlett of Georgia introduced a bill in the House of Representatives which provided for trial by jury in cases of indirect contempt. This bill, however, like so many others, was never favorably considered. Each year following this Mr. Bartlett introduced bills of a similar nature,1 but it was not until 1912 at the meeting of the Sixty-second Congress that he was successful in getting one ( H. R.22591) passed by the House.

The first attempt at remedial legislation by the Senate seems to have been in 1896 when a bill (S. 2984) providing for jury trials in cases of indirect contempt was introduced by Senator Hill of New York. After a rather stormy session the bill was passed by the Senate only to meet its death in the House Judiciary Committee.2 Even though bills were introduced each succeeding year in Congress, it was not until 1914 that the labor interests were able to muster sufficient support to get a bill passed by both houses and signed by the President. This law, the Clayton Act, among other things, provided that persons or corporations wilfully disobeying orders or decrees issued under the Sherman law

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1

51 Cong. Record, p. 9664, ( 1914).

2
28 Cong. Record, p. 6443, ( 1896).

-105-

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