that the fact that the instant dispute was before the Court was "wonderful, because at least we will have some idea of what the Court's views are on this kind of thing. We think it is appropriate that the Court have an opportunity to rule on this issue and get this thing resolved so that we don't have confusion at the convention. " (Tr. 18. (emphasis added).)
Second, Hoffa contends that the Election Officer improperly brought the instant application by Order To Show Cause because she failed to satisfy the requirements of this Court's Individual Rule 5. (Hoffa's Memo at 6.) Once again, however, it appears that Hoffa abandoned this argument when his counsel stated in open Court that "we think it is appropriate that the Court has an opportunity to rule on this issue and get this resolved so that we don't have confusion at the convention." (Tr. 18.)
Third, Hoffa contends that this Court should deny the instant application because the proposed amendment does not violate the Consent Decree. (Hoffa's Memo at 7 ("Respondent's proposed amendment does not violate either general principle, much less any of the provisions in the Consent Decree or the Election Rules.").) Hoffa argues that the proposed amendment "does not undo reform; it only seeks to enhance it." Id. Hoffa asserts that he "fully embraces the goals, objectives and specific requirements of the Consent Decree, in particular those mandating that there be a fair, honest, open and informed election." Id. He contends that the proposed amendment "if passed by the democratically elected delegates to the Convention, would further these goals." Id.
Fourth, in his memorandum of law, Hoffa contends that the relief requested in the instant application is an improper prior restraint on Hoffa's right to freedom of speech. Id. at 8. Hoffa asserts that "without so much as a suggestion from the Election Officer that consideration of this proposal by the Convention would somehow harm or impair the Consent Decree at all, let alone irreparably, we respectfully submit that the Election Officer's request for an order enjoining Respondent from proposing and advocating his debate amendment at the Convention is groundless." Id. at 9. At oral argument, however, Hoffa's attorney appeared to abandon this argument, after hearing argument from the Election Officer and the Government that the Election Officer only sought to enjoin implementation of the proposed amendment and did not seek to enjoin debate or advocacy of this amendment. (Tr. 4, 8 (Election Officer); Tr. 13 (Government).) At oral argument, Hoffa's counsel stated: "My concern basically, I think, has been rectified because in the scope of this argument, the nature of the injunctive relief, as I understood it, being requested has been narrowed substantially." (Tr. 19.)
By conferring on the 1996 Election Officer "all rights and duties conferred upon the 1991 Election Officer by paragraph 12 of the Consent Decree," this Court's February 7, 1995, Order conferred broad authority on the Election Officer to supervise all facets of the 1996 IBT Elections. Like the 1991 Election Officer, the 1996 Election Officer "has broad authority to 'supervise' the IBT election process" and has "substantial discretion to impose election rules and procedures that ensure that the upcoming elections are free, fair and informed." United States v. International Bhd. of Teamsters et al., 931 F.2d 177, 187 (2d Cir. 1991). The "expansive and proactive" authority granted to the Election Officer encompasses the "complete supervision of all facets of the election process." United States v. International Bhd. of Teamsters et al., 742 F. Supp. 94, 106 (S.D.N.Y. 1990), aff'd as modified, 931 F.2d 177 (2d Cir. 1991). As this Court previously has held, "the Election Officer must oversee each and every facet of this election in order to prevent any possibility of fraud, coercion, intimidation, harassment, or threat in any of its varied forms." Id. In light of the broad oversight responsibilities of the Election Officer, this Court has found that "it is within the scope of the duties of the Election Officer to take any further reasonable actions necessary to carry out [his or her] duties as Election Officer and ensure fair elections for the IBT membership." United States v. International Bhd. of Teamsters, et al., 723 F. Supp. 203, 207 (S.D.N.Y. 1989), aff'd, 931 F.2d 177 (2d Cir. 1991).
This Court holds that Application V should be granted because the Election Officer has comprehensive authority to oversee all aspects of the IBT Elections and the Convention. See 931 F.2d at 187; 742 F. Supp. at 106; 723 F. Supp. at 207. As the Consent Decree and this Court's rulings make clear, the Election Officer--and only the Election Officer--may establish the rules that govern the 1996 IBT Election, which must then be approved by this Court. Because the proposed amendment seeks to provide for a debate at the Convention, this amendment impinges upon the Election Officer's authority. As both the Election Officer and the Government argued, the proposed amendment contradicts Article VIII, section 6 of the Election Rules in two respects. First, it impinges on the Election Officer's authority to schedule and conduct candidate forums by requiring a debate that has not been scheduled or organized pursuant to rules established by the Election Officer. Second, the proposed amendment calls for a debate that will not be overseen by the Election Officer.
Moreover, the Government is correct in arguing that even if the proposed amendment did not directly contradict any of the Election Rules or the Convention Rules, the proposed amendment would, nonetheless, be invalid. As previously mentioned, the Election Officer has broad and comprehensive authority to oversee all aspects of the IBT Election. This authority includes the power to promulgate rules governing the 1996 Election. The various rules that the Election Officer has promulgated governing the 1996 Election--which all have been reviewed and approved by this Court--constitute a complete and comprehensive set of rules. Any additions or supplements to these rules must come from the Election Officer, and the Convention is not free to enact a proposed change to these Rules--even if the proposed change will promote an open, honest, free election, as Hoffa claims the instant proposed amendment will. As the Second Circuit has held, the Election Officer has "substantial discretion to impose election rules and procedures that ensure that the upcoming elections are free, fair and informed." 931 F.2d at 187. In promulgating Election Rules and Convention Rules that do not provide for the debate contemplated in Hoffa's proposed amendment, the Election Officer has exercised her discretion and decided that such debate is inappropriate. Such an exercise of discretion is proper under both the Consent Decree and the rulings of this Court and the Second Circuit.
The proposed amendment also is untimely. Pursuant to her authority under the Consent Decree, the Election Officer promulgated both the Election Rules and the Convention Rules. See 896 F. Supp. 1348 (S.D.N.Y. 1995), aff'd as modified, 86 F.3d 271, 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 14278, 1996 WL 316635 (2d Cir. 1996); 88 Civ. 4486, Order (S.D.N.Y. May 23, 1996). In approving the Election Rules, this Court noted that the rules proposed by the Election Officer were "the result of [an] extensive effort to canvas and consult with all interested parties and to consider the lessons learned from the 1991 IBT election experience." 896 F. Supp. at 1354. Moreover, the Election Officer submitted for this Court's approval both the Election Rules and the Convention Rules, and any interested party was free to file an objection to these rules. Hoffa did not seek to win approval for his debate-provision by commenting on the Election Rules, filing an objection to the Election Rules, or filing an objection to the Convention Rules. Rather, he has waited until the eve of the Convention to raise the instant debate issue. Insofar as he has failed to abide by the procedures for commenting on the Election Rules or the Convention Rules, the proposed amendment is untimely, and an injunction should issue, preventing the implementation of the proposed amendment.
Each of the four objections that Hoffa has raised is meritless. First, Hoffa contends that the instant application should be denied because the Election Officer has failed to demonstrate any irreparable harm. As previously noted, Hoffa contends that the Court need not consider the Election Officer's objections to the proposed amendment at this time because "if the amendment passes, surely the Court may then consider whether to vacate it." (Hoffa's Memo at 6.) As an initial matter, this objection should be dismissed because Hoffa's counsel waived this objection at oral argument, stating "it is appropriate that the Court have an opportunity to rule on this issue and get this thing resolved so that we don't have confusion at the convention." (Tr. 18.) In addition, this objection is meritless because the Election Officer has made a sufficient showing of irreparable injury. It is uncontested that Hoffa intends to proceed with the proposed amendment unless he receives a judicial determination that such an amendment would violate the Consent Decree and the Election Rules. Both the Government and the Election Officer correctly note that seeking a ruling from this Court during the Convention would encumber the election process. The Election Officer stated at oral argument "while the delegates are engaged in trying to determine what they may do and may not do consistent with the consent order at the convention, . . . our time [should] not be consumed with questions of what authority the convention delegates have." (Tr. 8) Similarly, citing this Court's July 9, 1996, Order--which provides for a stay of the Convention while this Court has time to resolve issues that might implicate the Consent Decree--the Government argues that "by seeking this relief in advance of the convention, it prevents the need for either the election officer or either of the parties to shut down the convention proceeding while seeking [a] determination from the Court." (Tr. at 11.) Accordingly, this Court holds that the Election Officer has made a sufficient showing of irreparable injury to support the instant application for an injunction.
Second, Hoffa argues that instant application should be denied because the Election Officer failed to satisfy the requirements for bringing a motion by Order To Show Cause before this Court, as specified in this Court's Individual Rule 5. (Hoffa's Memo at 6.) Like the previous objection, this objection should be dismissed because Hoffa's counsel abandoned it at oral argument, stating "we think it is appropriate that the Court has an opportunity to rule on this issue and get this resolved so that we don't have confusion at the convention." (Tr. 18.) Counsel cannot on the one hand assert that a motion is not properly before the Court and on the other hand assert that it is appropriate for the Court to rule on the motion. In any event, the objection is untimely because this Court already granted the Election Officer's Order To Show Cause by signing an Order on July 9, 1996.
Third, Hoffa contends that this Court should deny the instant application because the proposed amendment does not violate the Consent Decree. (Hoffa's Memo at 7.) As the previous discussion demonstrates, however, the proposed amendment violates the Consent Decree insofar as it impinges on the Election Officer's comprehensive authority to oversee all aspects of the election process and to promulgate the rules that govern the IBT Elections. In addition, as the Government correctly notes, Hoffa is mistaken in arguing that the Convention is a supreme authority with respect to Consent Decree matters. The holdings of this Court and the Second Circuit are clearly to the contrary. See United States v. International Bhd. of Teamsters, et al., 764 F. Supp. 787, 792 (S.D.N.Y.), aff'd, 940 F.2d 648 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 819, 116 L. Ed. 2d 50, 112 S. Ct. 76 (1991).
Fourth, Hoffa contends that the relief requested in the instant application is an improper prior restraint on Hoffa's right to freedom of speech. (Hoffa's Memo at 8.) This objection should be dismissed because Hoffa's attorney waived this objection at oral argument. (Tr. 19.) In addition, this argument is meritless because the application seeks an injunction that would in no way encumber any IBT member's right to free speech. The requested injunction neither prohibits debate regarding the amendment nor prohibits the delegates from amending the IBT Constitution to provide for candidate debates at future IBT Conventions. Rather, the requested injunction would only prevent the delegates from implementing the proposed amendment and applying the amendment to the 1996 IBT Convention. Accordingly, the proposed injunction does not encumber any speech, and the instant objection is meritless.
Finally, it should be noted that in a submission to the Election Appeals Master appointed by this Court, Hoffa's counsel asserted that the Election Officer had no authority to object to proposed amendments to the IBT Constitution. Counsel stated that "the Election Officer has no responsibility or authority to object to proposed constitutional amendments under consideration by the 'supreme governing authority' of the Union. Her actions here effectively usurp the 'supreme' authority of the Convention and the authority of the United States Attorney." (Letter from Bradley T. Raymond, Esq. to Kenneth Conboy, Esq., Election Appeals Master at 3 (July 2, 1996) (Attached as Exhibit 7 to Declaration of Barbara Zack Quindel in Support of Election Officer Application V (July 8, 1996)).) Hoffa did not raise this argument in his memorandum of law, and at oral argument, Hoffa's counsel stated that he was not raising this argument before this Court. (Tr. 20-22.) Even if Hoffa's papers could somehow be interpreted as raising this argument, however, the argument is meritless because the Election Officer's broad authority to oversee all aspects of the election process includes the power to object to proposed amendments to the IBT Constitution that impinge on her authority.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT Election Officer Application V is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT the IBT and any members thereof are enjoined from interfering with the Election Officer's supervisory authority by attempting to implement a constitutional amendment that convenes or compels a debate among candidates for International office during the 1996 IBT International Convention.
DATED: New York, New York
July 12, 1996
David N. Edelstein
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