Law professors: Issa should not subpoena NLRB documents in Boeing case

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But the group of law professors that wrote to Issa Friday said that he runs the risk of interfering with an ongoing legal proceeding.

"As national legal and labor policy experts, we are gravely concerned by the undue pressure that this letter, and its threats to compel disclosure of privileged documents, have placed on an independent law enforcement agency," the group said of a letter Issa wrote to the NLRB on July 12.

"We are particularly concerned because the documents at issue relate to a case currently being tried before an Administrative Law Judge in Seattle, Washington," the professors' letter continued. "We therefore strong urge the committee to let this case proceed according to policies established in the National Labor Relations Act without further interference."

The letter is signed by professors from the University of Washington School of Law, Cornell University, Ohio State University, Penn State University, Indiana University, the University of Wyoming, Rutgers University, the University of California-Irvine, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Kentucky, Nova Southeastern University, the University of Richmond, the University of Oregon, New York Law School, the University of California-Santa Barbara, West Virginia University, San Francisco State University, Georgetown University, the University of Denver, the University of Wisconsin, Tulane University, the University of Toledo, Columbia University, the University of South Carolina, Syracuse University, the University of California-Los Angeles and the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Issa has maintained it is his job to look into case like the NLRB's Boeing proceeding, which he and other Republicans have called unprecedented.

“In order to fulfill the committee's constitutional obligations to conduct oversight to determine whether the NLRB is properly carrying out its mandate under the [National Labor Relations Act] and, in turn, using taxpayer dollars appropriately, the committee needs all the documents requested," Issa wrote in his letter to NLRB acting general counsel Lafe Solomon.

The law professors countered that the Oversight committee's authority should be used judicially.

"We appreciate your committee's broad oversight responsibilities and extensive investigatory powers," the letter said. "Yet the committee also has the responsibility to use its powers wisely, judiciously and in the public interest — including allowing an independent federal law enforcement agency, such as the NLRB, to do its job without undue interference."

NLRB lawyer Solomon has made similar arguments.

"It remains my belief that premature disclosure of the Boeing case file would severely impact the parties' due process rights and the Agency's legal process," he wrote to Issa in a letter dated Tuesday. 

Solomon said that a decision by the administrative law judge in Seattle to dismiss a motion to dismiss the case from Boeing should satisfy Issa's concerns about the merits of the proceeding.

Boeing opened its new 787 plant in Charleston, S.C., last month. If the NLRB complaint is ultimately successful, however, the company could be forced to build the planes it intends to build there in Seattle instead.


An administrative law judge in Seattle dismissed a Boeing motion to dismiss the case at the end of June. The case is expected to last several weeks.