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Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer [The Steel Seizure Case], 343 U.S. 579 (1952) p.356


separation of powers: executive branch


To avert a nation-wide strike of steel workers in April 1952, which he believed would jeopardize national defense, the President issued an Executive Order directing the Secretary of Commerce to seize and operate most of the steel mills. The Order was not based upon any specific statutory authority but was based generally upon all powers vested in the President by the Constitution and laws of the United States and as President of the United States and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. The Secretary issued an order seizing the steel mills and directing their presidents to operate them as operating managers for the United States in accordance with his regulations and directions. The president promptly reported these events to Congress; but Congress took no action. It had provided other methods of dealing with such situations and had refused to authorize governmental seizures of property to settle labor disputes.


The steel companies sued the Secretary in Federal District Court, praying for a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. The District Court issued a preliminary injunction, which the Court of Appeals stayed.


Whether the President was acting within his constitutional authority when he issued an order directint the Secretary of Commerce to take possession and operatemost of the Nation's steel mills.


The lawmaking power, which the Constitution vests in the Congress alone, is only with Congress in both good and bad times.


2. The Executive Order was not authorized by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and it cannot stand. (a) There is no statute which expressly or impliedly authorizes the President to take possession of this property as he did here. (b) In its consideration of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, Congress refused to authorize governmental seizures of property as a method of preventing work stoppages and settling labor disputes. P. 586. (c) Authority of the President to issue such an order in the circumstances of this case cannot be implied from the aggregate of his powers under Article II of the Constitution. Pp. 587-589. (d) The Order cannot properly be sustained as an exercise of the President's military power as commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. P. 587. (e) Nor can the Order be sustained because of the several provisions of Article II which grant executive power to the President. Pp. 587-589. (f) The power here sought to be exercised is the lawmaking power, which the Constitution vests in the Congress alone, in both good and bad times. Pp. 587-589. (g) Even if it be true that other Presidents have taken possession of private business enterprises without congressional authority in order to settle labor disputes, Congress has not thereby lost its exclusive constitutional authority to make the laws necessary and proper to carry out all powers vested by the Constitution "in the Government of the United States, or any Department or Officer thereof."


President's power must come from either and act of Congress or from the Constitution itself. Congress has not authorized this act so we must look at Constitutional Authority. The president is not acting as commander in chief, executive power, or under the take care clause (because no act of Congress). The power to legislate is not the power to execute. Here, the President was trying to make laws which is outside of his power.


Justice Frankfurter (functionalist) - concurring - the principle of separation of powers seem to be more complicated and fliexible than what the majority opion expresses.

Created on: Monday, September 27, 1999 at 16:24:28 (PDT)

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