KAUFMAN, Circuit Judge, with whom Judges FRIENDLY, FEINBERG, MANSFIELD, and MULLIGAN, concur.
I vote against en banc, not because I believe this case is unimportant, but because the case is of such extraordinary consequence that I am confident the Supreme Court will take this matter under its certiorari jurisdiction. Judge Oakes's opinion, dissenting from the denial of en banc, illustrates some of the far-reaching implications the panel's opinion might have on the initiation and administration of certain class action litigation in the future. En banc consideration by this court, however, would merely serve as an instrument of delay. Moreover, the application for certiorari will not go to the Supreme Court barren of the views of the judges of this court as, for example, in the Pentagon Papers case, where the court convened en banc but, because of urgent time considerations, did not write opinions. Judge Oakes has set forth his views on the merits with vigor and Judge Medina's panel opinion articulates the opposing position. Our decision to decline en banc consideration of this case in no way implies, as my brother Oakes suggests, the demise of en banc in future cases of exceptional importance; nor does it threaten to turn this collegial court into a fragmented judicial body of panels of three, in which each panel's opinions speak only for the panel, and not for the whole Court. Instead, we wisely speed this case on its way to the Supreme Court as an exercise of sound, prudent and resourceful judicial administration.
MANSFIELD, Cir. J.: I concur in Judge Kaufman's opinion.
The issues raised by this appeal are of exceptional importance and therefore deserving of the most authoritative resolution possible. If the recent history of en banc proceedings in this Court is any indication, however, an en banc hearing would result in opinions expressing diverse views, necessitating ultimate resolution by the Supreme Court. See, e.g., Rodriguez v. McGinnis, 456 F.2d 79 (2d Cir. 1972), reversed sub nom. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 93 S. Ct. 1827, 36 L. Ed. 2d 439, 41 U.S.L.W. 4555 (May 7, 1973). In the meantime one year's delay would be added to this already protracted proceeding. This predicament might be avoided by granting the petition and, with the case then before us de novo, invoking the Supreme Court's jurisdiction through the rarely used procedure provided by 28 U.S.C. § 1254(3), which empowers us sua sponte to certify grave questions to it for final decision where we believe the answers to be in doubt. See 28 U.S.C. Rules 28-29, Revised Rules of the Supreme Court (1973 Supp.); Old Colony Trust Co. v. Commissioner, 279 U.S. 716, 728-29, 73 L. Ed. 918, 49 S. Ct. 499 (1929). However, since I am persuaded that the Supreme Court, in view of the far-reaching significance of the issues, will in all likelihood grant certiorari, I believe that such a procedure is unnecessary. Otherwise I would agree with Judge Oakes' forceful plea for an en banc hearing.
HAYS, Cir. J. dissenting: I believe that this case should be reconsidered en banc .
OAKES, Cir. J. (dissenting from the denial of rehearing en banc), with whom Judge Timbers concurs:
For this court not to hear a matter of this significance is to render the en banc statute*fn1 a nullity. One may in this era of burgeoning appellate business quite plausibly take the view that the en banc procedure should not be used "merely" to correct individual injustices*fn2 or mistakes, but only in a case where the panel decision*fn3 is in serious conflict with prior decisions of the particular Circuit Court of Appeals or where it is of extreme importance. Even with that view, however, this case, if no other decided in recent years, qualifies for en banc treatment.I say this for the following reasons which I will enumerate, adding a few comments subsequently:
1. The case is extremely important and vitally affects class actions, particularly environmental and consumer actions, affecting large numbers of citizens.
2. The panel opinion reaches a result which is very doubtful to say the least; on its face the opinion appears to nullify much of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23.
3. The case should be heard en banc; the procedure is there and presumably is to serve some purpose, and the Supreme Court has admonished the Courts of Appeal to make use of it.
4. There are no compelling reasons for not hearing the case en banc.
The Case Is of Extreme Importance; It Vitally Affects Class Actions .
I would expect that the case would be conceded by each and every one of the judges voting to deny en banc treatment, if he were polled, to be of extreme importance. Judge Kaufman's opinion makes this concession.
The panel opinion defines as unmanageable any case involving a large class where actual notification of readily ascertainable members is expensive. It calls notice by publication to a large class a "farce" and casts constitutional doubts on any other construction of Rule 23. The case accordingly affects adversely much consumer and environmental litigation, as well as all anti-trust and other claims by numbers of little people for small amounts*fn4 The panel opinion seems on its face to give a green light to monopolies and conglomerates who deal in quantity items selling at small prices to proceed to violate the antitrust laws, unhampered by any realistic threat of private consumer civil proceedings, leaving it to some vague future act of Congress to protect the innocent consumer. The panel opinion as I read it tells polluters that they are pretty safe from class actions because even if a whole city is ...