SpaceX Loses Latest Bid To Keep Lawsuit Against NLRB In Texas

SpaceX Lawsuit NLRB Texas

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a tied vote of 8-8, rejected SpaceX’s attempt to keep a lawsuit challenging the National Labor Relations Board’s structure in Texas rather than California.

Despite objections from conservative judges, the full court declined to rehear the matter, upholding the panel’s decision to reject SpaceX’s bid to block the case transfer from Brownsville, Texas, to Los Angeles.

SpaceX alleged in a lawsuit filed in January that the NLRB’s internal proceedings violated its constitutional right to a jury trial and criticized limits on the removal of the agency’s board members and judges.

The company sued in Texas after the NLRB accused it of unlawfully firing employees critical of Elon Musk, SpaceX’s CEO. The case saw an initial hearing last month, with further proceedings scheduled for May.

Following the NLRB’s request, U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera transferred the case to Los Angeles, citing California’s significance in the events leading to the lawsuit.

The 5th Circuit initially halted the transfer to allow SpaceX to appeal. However, a panel later rejected SpaceX’s plea to keep the case in Texas. The company’s request for a full court review was turned down, resulting in a tied vote that upheld the earlier ruling.

The tie stemmed from the recusal of U.S. Circuit Judge James Ho, appointed by former President Donald Trump, who criticized a federal judicial policy targeting conservative litigants in Texas.

Dissenting Opinion

In a dissenting opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge Edith Jones, along with five other judges appointed by Republican presidents, argued that SpaceX had the right to choose its venue for challenging NLRB procedures.

Jones criticized the NLRB’s attorneys for advocating forum shopping, accusing them of employing “shabby tactics” to push for the case transfer to California.

However, a separate panel cleared two NLRB attorneys of wrongdoing but acknowledged their need for guidance on presenting factual errors and jurisdiction disputes in court.

The NLRB defended its actions, stating that it relied on information from the California clerk’s office and believed the transfer occurred promptly after Olvera’s order.

Overall, the 5th Circuit’s decision marked a setback for SpaceX’s efforts to litigate the NLRB dispute in Texas, highlighting the complexities of jurisdictional battles in legal proceedings.