Appeal from the Supreme Court of the State of New York.
Mr. Daniel J. Dugan, of Albany, N.Y., for appellant. [326 U.S. 88, 89] Mr. Wendell P. Brown, of Albany, N.Y., for appellee.
Mr. Justice REED delivered the opinion of the Court.
The appellant, Railway Mail Association, questioned the validity of Section 43, and related Sections 41 and 45, of the New York Civil Rights Law which provide, under penalty against its officers and members, that no labor organization shall deny a person membership by reason of race, color or creed, or deny to any of its members, by reason of race, color or creed, equal treatment in the designation of its members for employment, promotion or dismissal by an employer. 1 Appellant contended that it was not a 'labor organization' subject to these sections, and that if they were held to apply to it, they [326 U.S. 88, 90] violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the federal Constitution and were in conflict with the federal power over post offices and post roads. Article I, Section 8, Clause 7, of the federal Constitution. The New York Court of Appeals rejected these contentions. 2 On appeal to this Court, consideration of the question of jurisdiction was postponed to the hearing on the merits for determination of whether the case presented a 'case or controversy' within the meaning of the federal Constitution. The jurisdiction of this Court rests on Section 237(a) of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C.A. 344(a).
The appellant, Railway Mail Association, a New Hampshire corporation, is an organization with a membership [326 U.S. 88, 91] of some 22,000 regular and substitute postal clerks of the United States Railway Mail Service. It has division and branch associations, thirteen of such branch associations being located in different parts of New York. Article III of appellant's constitution limits membership in the association to eligible postal clerks who are of the Caucasian race, or native American Indians. 3 Certain officers and members of one of appellant's branch associations raised the question of the validity of Article III of appellant's constitution with the appellee, the Industrial Commissioner of the State of New York, who was charged with enforcement of Section 43. Faced with the threat of enforcement of the statute against it, the appellant filed suit against the Industrial Commissioner in a state court for a declaratory judgment to determine the validity of Section 43, and related provisions, and for an injunction restraining its enforcement against the appellant. A state Supreme Court entered judgment for the appellant finding that it was not a 'labor organization' as defined in Section 43 of the state statute. 4 On appeal to the Appellate Division, this judgment was reversed, the appellate court finding that appellant was covered by Section 43 and that Section 43 as applied to appellant did not violate the federal Constitution.