CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT.
Warren, Black, Douglas, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, White, Fortas; Marshall took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.
Petitioner, the Secretary of Labor, filed this action in the District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania seeking a judgment declaring void the election of officers conducted by respondent Local Union on October 18, 1963, and directing that a new election be conducted under the Secretary's supervision.
Section 402 (b) of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, 29 U. S. C. § 482 (b), authorizes the Secretary of Labor, upon complaint by a union member who has exhausted his internal union remedies, to file the suit when an investigation of the complaint gives the Secretary probable cause to believe that the union election was not conducted in compliance with the standards prescribed in § 401 of the Act, 29 U. S. C. § 481. If the court finds that a violation of § 401 occurred which "may have affected the outcome of an election," it "shall declare the election, if any, to be void and direct the conduct of a new election under supervision of the Secretary."*fn1 The alleged illegality in the
election was a violation of the provision of § 401 (e), 29 U. S. C. § 481 (e), that in a union election subject to the Act every union member "in good standing shall be eligible to be a candidate and to hold office (subject to . . . reasonable qualifications uniformly imposed) . . . ."
A Local bylaw provided that union members had to have attended 75% of the Local's regular meetings in the two years preceding the election to be eligible to stand for office.*fn2 The union member whose complaint invoked the Secretary's investigation had not been allowed to stand for President at the 1963 election because he had attended only 17 of the 24 regular monthly meetings, one short of the requisite 75%; under the bylaws, working on the night shift was the only excusable absence and none of his absences was for this reason.
The District Court held that the meeting-attendance requirement was an unreasonable restriction upon the eligibility of union members to be candidates for office and therefore violated § 401 (e),*fn3 but dismissed the suit on the ground that it was not established that the violation "may have affected the outcome" of the election. 244 F.Supp. 745. The Secretary appealed to the Court
of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The appeal was pending when the Local conducted its next regular biennial election in October 1965. The Court of Appeals held that the Secretary's challenge to the 1963 election was mooted by the 1965 election, and therefore vacated the District Court judgment with the direction to dismiss the case as moot. In consequence, the court did not reach the merits of the question whether the unlawful meeting-attendance qualification may have affected the outcome of the 1963 election. 372 F.2d 86.*fn4 Because the question whether the intervening election mooted the Secretary's action is important in the administration of the LMRDA, we granted certiorari, 387 U.S. 904, and set the case for oral argument with No. 58, Wirtz v. Local 125, Laborers' Int'l Union, post, p. 477. We reverse.
The holding of the Court of Appeals did not rest on any explicit statutory provision that on the happening of another unsupervised election the Secretary's cause of action should be deemed to have "ceased to exist." California v. San Pablo & T. R. Co., 149 U.S. 308, ...