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January 1991, Vol. 114, No. 1
T he Supreme Court began its 1990-91 term without Justice William Brennan, who resigned in July after sitting on the High Court for nearly 34 years. Justice Brennan, who served longer than all but four Justices in the Court's history, was replaced by Federal Appeals Court Judge David Souter. Judge Souter was confirmed overwhelmingly by the U.S. Senate on October 9 and was sworn in as the 105th Justice of the Supreme Court.
Along with a new Justice, the 1990-91 term brought cases presenting a wide variety labor-related issues. By the time the Court adjourns next summer, cases involving the safety, health, and civil rights of workers, the right of unions to limit the distribution of union election campaign literature, the right of employees to sue their employers for employment contract violations, and many others will be briefed, argued, and considered. What follows are summaries of the issues in these and other important cases.1
On October 10, 1990, the Court heard arguments in Groves v. Ring Screw Works,2 a case in which the court must interpret section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act.3 This Federal law permits a worker to sue his or her employer in Federal court for violating the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. One exception to this right to sue is where the collective bargaining agreement between the union and the company provides an exclusive process for resolving contract grievances. In this case, the agreed-upon process must be used.4
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1 As its term progresses, the Court is expected to agree to hear additional cases. Some of these cases undoubtedly will raise issues that are of interest to those who follow labor law developments. For example, shortly after this article was submitted for publication, the Court agreed to hear Litton Financial Printing Div. v. NLRB, 893 F.2d 1128 (9th Cir. 1990), cert. granted, 59 U.S.L.W. 3362 (U.S. Nov 13, 1990) (No. 90-285), which raises the issue of whether 8(a)(5)(1988), requires an employer to abide by expired collective bargaining agreement provisions, and Pauley v. Bethenergy Mines, Inc., 890 F.2d 1295 (3d Cir. 1989), cert. granted, 59 U.S.L.W. 3325 (U.S. Oct. 29, 1990) (No. 1714), which raises complex questions pertaining to the Black Lung Benefits Act, 30 U.S.C. 901 (1988). The Court also has agreed recently to decide whether a Missouri State constitutional provision requiring appointed judges to retire at 70 violates either the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. 621 (1988), or the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constipation. See Gregory v Ashcroft, 898 F.2d 598 (8th Cir. 1990),cert.granted, 59 U.S.L.W. 3391 (U.S. Nov. 26, 1990) (No. 90-50)
2 882 F.2d 1081 (6th Cir. 1989), cert. granted, 110 S. Ct. 1469 (1990) (No. 89-1166). Shortly before this article went to press, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in this case which reversed the appellate courts decision. See 59 U.S.L.W. 4043 (U.S. Dec. 10, 1990).
3 29 U.S.C. 185 (1988)
4 See Republic Steel Corp. v Maddox, 379 U.S. 650 (1965)
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