Skip to main content

Presidential Powers

Many people have questoned where is the Constitutional  authority for health care or the takeover of private business. I wondered why there was not a loud protest from the legal community. I thought maybe they didn't learn the same thing I did in law school Law schools now teach case law, not the reasons behind the ten amendments and the Constitution.

On April 4, 1952, after a long standing dispute between union employees and the steel companies, the union gave notice of a nation wide strike to begin on April 9th, The President believed the strike would cause curtailment of steel production and that would be a disaster on the war fronts in Korea.

The President issued an executive order directing the Secretary of Commerce to take immediate possession of the steel plants and operate them for the government. This was on April 8th.The steel companies obtained an injunction

Justice Black, speaking for the majority, said that if the president had authority to issue an order. it must be found in some provision of the Constitution or in an act of the Congress, that  there was no statute expressly authorizing the president to take possession of property in this manner, and that no act of Congress had been called to the court's attention from which such a power could be fairly implied.

That the power could not be sustained as an exercise of the President's military power as Commander-iin-Chief of the Armed forces; now could the seizure order be sustained because of the several constitutional provisions that grant executive power to the president.

Finally, Mr. Justice Brandeis said "The doctrine of the separation of powers was adopted by the convention of 1787, not to promote efficiency but to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power. The purpose was, not to avoid friction but by means of the inevitable friction incident to the distribution of the governmental powers among three departments, to save the people from autocracy."

I think law schools ought to go back to teaching lawyers the principles and reasons behind our great documents.

Comments