Chamber of Commerce, et al. v. Brown, Jr., et al.

Federal Preemption of State Labor Law

Term: 2007 Term
Oral Argument Date: Mar 19, 2008
Vote: 7-2
Opinion: Stevens
Questions Presented: 

Is the State of California’s regulation of noncoercive employer speech about union organizing, California Assembly Bill 1889, Cal. Gov’t Code §§ 16645.2, 16645.7, preempted by federal labor law?

U.S. Chamber's Position: 

NCLC challenged a Ninth Circuit decision holding that a California law prohibiting employers who receive more than $10,000 in state funds annually from using those funds ”to assist, promote, or deter union organizing” was not preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). A federal district court ruled in September 2002 that certain provisions of the California law were preempted by the NLRA; a three judge appeals court panel unanimously agreed in April 2004; the panel again supported preemption in a 2-1 ruling in September 2005, but was reversed by the full Ninth Circuit in September 2006.

Outcome Content: 

The Supreme Court struck down the California law. Reversing the Ninth Circuit's en banc opinion, the Supreme Court agreed with the Chamber of Commerce and held that the law is preempted because it regulates a zone protected and reserved for market freedom.

Justices in Minority: 
Procedural History: 

Petition for a writ of cert. filed 1/5/07. Call for the views of the Solicitor General issued 4/16/07. Solicitor General’s invitation brief recommending grant of cert. filed 10/19/07. Cert. granted 11/20/07. Merits brief filed 1/9/08. Respondents’ briefs filed 2/12/08. Reply brief filed 3/3/08. Moot courts held 3/5/08 and 3/11/08. Oral argument held 3/19/08. Decided 6/19/08.