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decided: June 10, 1963.



Warren, Black, Douglas, Clark, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, White, Goldberg

Author: Stewart

[ 374 U.S. Page 75]

 Opinion of the Court by MR. JUSTICE STEWART, announced by MR. JUSTICE WHITE.

The appellant union is the certified representative of a majority of the employees of Kansas City Transit, Inc., a Missouri corporation which operates a public transit business in Kansas and Missouri. A collective bargaining agreement between the appellant and the company was due to expire on October 31, 1961, and in August of that year, after appropriate notices, the parties commenced the negotiation of an amended agreement. An impasse in these negotiations was reached, and in early November the appellant's members voted to strike. The strike was called on November 13.

The same day the Governor of Missouri, acting under the authority of a state law known as the King-Thompson

[ 374 U.S. Page 76]

     Act,*fn1 issued a proclamation that the public interest, health and welfare were jeopardized by the threatened interruption of the company's operations, and by an executive order purported to take possession "of the plants, equipment, and all facilities of the Kansas City Transit, Inc., located in the State of Missouri, for the use and operation by the State of Missouri in the public interest." A second executive order provided in part that "All rules and regulations . . . governing the internal management and organization of the company, and its duties and responsibilities, shall remain in force and effect throughout the term of operation by the State of Missouri."

Pursuant to a provision of the Act which makes unlawful any strike or concerted refusal to work as a means of enforcing demands against the utility or the State after possession has been taken by the State, the State petitioned the Circuit Court of Jackson County for an injunction on November 15, 1961.*fn2 A temporary restraining order was issued on that day, and the strike and picketing were discontinued that evening. After a two-day trial, the order was continued in effect, and the Circuit Court later entered a permanent injunction barring the continuation of the strike "against the State of Missouri."

[ 374 U.S. Page 77]

     On appeal to the Supreme Court of Missouri, the appellants argued that the King-Thompson Act is in conflict with and is pre-empted by federal labor legislation, and that it abridges rights guaranteed by the First, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Reaffirming its earlier decisions in cases arising under the Act,*fn3 the Supreme Court of Missouri rejected these arguments and affirmed the issuance of the injunction. 361 S. W. 2d 33. We noted probable jurisdiction. 371 U.S. 961.

We are met at the threshold with the claim that this controversy has become moot, and that we are accordingly foreclosed from considering the merits of the appeal. The basis for this contention is the fact that, after the appellants' jurisdictional statement was filed in this Court, the Governor of Missouri issued an executive order which, although reciting that the labor dispute between Kansas City Transit, Inc., and the appellant union "remains unresolved," nevertheless terminated the outstanding seizure order, upon the finding that "continued exercise by me of such authority is not justified in the circumstances of the aforesaid labor dispute." Reliance for the claim of mootness is placed upon this Court's decisions in Harris v. Battle, 348 U.S. 803, and Oil Workers Unions v. Missouri, 361 U.S. 363. In the Oil Workers case the Court declined to consider constitutional challenges to the King-Thompson Act, and in the Harris case declined to rule on the constitutionality of a similar Virginia statute, on the ground that the controversies had become moot. In both of those cases, however, the underlying labor dispute had been settled and new collective bargaining agreements concluded by the time the litigation reached

[ 374 U.S. Page 78]

     this Court. Here, by contrast, the labor dispute remains unresolved. There thus exists in the present case not merely the speculative possibility of invocation of the King-Thompson Act in some future labor dispute, but the presence of an existing unresolved dispute which continues subject to all the provisions of the Act. Cf. Southern Pac. Terminal Co. v. Interstate Commerce Comm'n, 219 U.S. 498, 514-516; United States v. W. T. Grant Co., 345 U.S. 629, 632. The situation here is thus quite different from that ...

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