Yakus v. United StatesAnnotate this Case
321 U.S. 414 (1944)
U.S. Supreme Court
Yakus v. United States, 321 U.S. 414 (1944)
Yakus v. United States
Argued January 7, 1944
Decided March 27, 1944
321 U.S. 414
CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT
1. The Emergency Price Control Act of 1942, as amended, held not to involve an unconstitutional delegation to the Price Administrator of the legislative power of Congress to control commodity prices in time of war. P. 321 U. S. 423.
(a) The Act, the declared purpose of which is to prevent wartime inflation, provides for the establishment of an Office of Price Administration under the direction of a Price Administrator appointed by the President. The Administrator is authorized, after consultation with representative members of the industry so far as practicable, to promulgate regulations fixing prices of commodities which "in his judgment will be generally fair and equitable and will effectuate the purposes of this Act" when, in his judgment, their prices "have risen or threaten to rise to an extent or in a manner inconsistent with the purposes of this Act." The Administrator is directed in fixing prices to give due consideration, so far as practicable, to prices prevailing during a
designated base period, and to make adjustments for relevant factors of general applicability. P. 321 U. S. 419et seq.
(b) The essentials of the legislative function are preserved when Congress has specified the basic conditions of fact upon whose existence or occurrence, ascertained from relevant data by a designated administrative agency, it directs that its statutory command shall be effective. It is no objection that the determination of facts and the inferences to be drawn from them in the light of the statutory standards and declaration of policy call for the exercise of judgment, and for the formulation of subsidiary administrative policy within the prescribed statutory framework. P. 321 U. S. 424.
(c) Acting within its constitutional power to fix prices, it is for Congress to say whether the data on the basis of which prices are to be fixed are to be confined within a narrow or a broad range. P. 321 U. S. 425.
(d) Congress is not confined to that method of executing its policy which involves the least possible delegation of discretion to administrative officers. P. 321 U. S. 425.
(e) The standards prescribed by the Act, with the aid of the "statement of considerations" required to be made by the Administrator, are sufficiently definite and precise to enable Congress, the courts and the public to ascertain whether the Administrator, in fixing the designated prices, has conformed to those standards. P. 321 U. S. 426.
2. The procedure prescribed by §§ 203 and 204 of the Emergency Price Control Act for determining the validity of the Administrator's price regulations -- by protest to and hearing before the Administrator, whose determination may be reviewed on complaint to the Emergency Court of Appeals and by this Court on certiorari -- is exclusive, and precludes the defense of invalidity of the regulation in a criminal prosecution for its violation. Pp. 321 U. S. 427, 321 U. S. 429.
3. Petitioners, who have not resorted to the procedure prescribed by Congress, can excuse their failure to do so, and can show a denial of constitutional right, only by showing that that procedure is incapable of affording them the due process of law guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. P. 321 U. S. 434.
4. The provisions of the Emergency Price Control Act, construed to deprive petitioners of opportunity to attack the validity of a price regulation (establishing maximum prices for the sale of certain meats at wholesale) in a prosecution for its violation, held not
on their face incapable of affording due process of law. P. 321 U. S. 435.
(a) Petitioners were not required by the Act, nor by any other rule of law, to continue selling at a loss. P. 321 U. S. 431.
(b) The sixty days' period allowed for protest to the Administrator was not unduly short in view of the power of the Administrator to extend the time for presentation of evidence, and the right given by the Act to apply to the Emergency Court of Appeals for leave to introduce any evidence "which could not reasonably" have been offered to the Administrator. P. 321 U. S. 435.
(c) Since the Administrator's regulations provide for a full oral hearing in appropriate cases, the Court does not consider, in the absence of any application to the Administrator for such a hearing, whether the denial or an oral hearing in any particular case would be a denial of due process. P. 321 U. S. 436.
(d) In the absence of any application to the Administrator, it cannot be assumed that he will deny due process to any applicant. And the Emergency Court of Appeals, and this Court upon certiorari, have full power to correct any denial of due process or other procedural error that may occur in a particular case. Pp. 321 U. S. 434, 321 U. S. 437.
5. Under the circumstances in which the Act was adopted and must be applied, its denial of any judicial stay pending determination of the validity of a regulation does not deny due process. P. 321 U. S. 437.
(a) The statute provides an expeditious means of testing the validity of a price regulation without necessarily incurring any of the penalties provided by the Act. P. 321 U. S. 438.
(b) The due process clause is not violated by a statutory denial of a right to a restraining order or interlocutory injunction to one who has failed to apply for available administrative relief, not shown to be inadequate, from the operation of an administrative regulation, pending determination of its validity. P. 321 U. S. 439.
(c) The award of an interlocutory injunction by courts of equity is not a matter of right, even though irreparable injury may otherwise result to the plaintiff. And the legislative formulation of what would otherwise be a rule of judicial discretion is not a denial of due process or a usurpation of judicial functions. Pp. 321 U. S. 440, 321 U. S. 442.
(d) The public interest may justify legislative authorization of summary action subject to later judicial review of its validity. P. 321 U. S. 442.
6. No principle of law or provision of the Constitution precludes Congress from making criminal the violation of an administrative regulation,
by one who has failed to avail himself of an adequate separate procedure for the adjudication of its validity, or precludes the practice of splitting the trial for violations of an administrative regulation by committing the determination of the issue of its validity to the agency which created it, and the issue of violation to a court which is given jurisdiction to punish violations. P. 321 U. S. 444.
7. The Court does not decide whether one charged with criminal violation of a duly promulgated price regulation may defend on the ground that the regulation is unconstitutional on its face, or whether one who is forced to trial and convicted of violation of a regulation, while diligently seeking determination of its validity by the statutory procedure, may thus be deprived of the defense that the regulation is invalid. P. 321 U. S. 446.
8. The Seventh Amendment's guarantee of a jury trial is inapplicable to a proceeding within the equity jurisdiction of the Emergency Court of Appeals to test the validity of a price regulation. P. 321 U. S. 447.
9. In the present criminal proceeding, there was no denial of the right of trial by jury, guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment, to a trial by a jury of the State and district where the crime was committed. The question whether petitioners had committed the crime charged in the indictment and defined by Congress, namely, whether they had violated the statute by willful disobedience of a price regulation promulgated by the Administrator, was properly submitted to the jury. P. 321 U. S. 447.
137 F.2d 850, affirmed.
CERTIORARI, 320 U.S. 730, to review the affirmance of convictions for violations of the Emergency Price Control Act.
OPINION of the Court by MR. CHIEF JUSTICE STONE, announced by MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS.
The questions for our decision are: (1) Whether the Emergency Price Control Act of January 30, 1942, 56 Stat. 23, 50 U.S.C.App. Supp. II, §§ 901 et seq., as amended by the Inflation Control Act of October 2, 1942, 66 Stat. 765, 50 U.S.C.App. Supp. II, §§ 961 et seq., involves an unconstitutional delegation to the Price Administrator of the legislative power of Congress to control prices; (2) whether § 204(d) of the Act was intended to preclude consideration by a district court of the validity of a maximum price regulation promulgated by the Administrator, as a defense to a criminal prosecution for its violation; (3) whether the exclusive statutory procedure set up by §§ 203 and 204 of the Act for administrative and judicial review of regulations, with the accompanying stay provisions, provide a sufficiently adequate means of determining the validity of a price regulation to meet the demands of due process, and (4) whether, in view of this available method of review, § 204(d) of the Act, if construed to preclude consideration of the validity of the regulation as a defense to a prosecution for violating it, contravenes the Sixth Amendment, or works an unconstitutional legislative interference with the judicial power.
Petitioners in both of these cases were tried and convicted by the District Court for Massachusetts upon several counts of indictments charging violation of §§ 4(a) and 205(b) of the Act by the willful sale of wholesale cuts of beef at prices above the maximum prices prescribed by §§ 1364.451-1364.455 of Revised Maximum Price Regulation No. 169, 7 Fed.Reg. 10381 et seq. Petitioners have not availed themselves of the procedure set up by §§ 203 and 204 by which any person subject to a maximum price regulation may test its validity by protest to and hearing before the Administrator, whose determination may be
reviewed on complaint to the Emergency Court of Appeals and by this Court on certiorari, see Lockerty v. Phillips,319 U. S. 182. When the indictments were found, the 60 days' period allowed by the statute for filing protests had expired.
In the course of the trial the District Court overruled or denied offers of proof, motions and requests for rulings, raising various questions as to the validity of the Act and Regulation, including those presented by the petitions for certiorari. In particular petitioners offered evidence, which the District Court excluded as irrelevant, for the purpose of showing that the Regulation did not conform to the standards prescribed by the Act and that it deprived petitioners of property without the due process of law guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. They specifically raised the question reserved in Lockerty v. Phillips, supra, whether the validity of a regulation may be challenged in defense of a prosecution for its violation although it had not been tested by the prescribed administrative procedure and complaint to the Emergency Court of Appeals. The District Court convicted petitioners upon verdicts of guilty. The Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed, 137 F.2d 850, and we granted certiorari, 320 U.S. 730.
The Emergency Price Control Act provides for the establishment of the Office of Price Administration under the direction of a Price Administrator appointed by the President, and sets up a comprehensive scheme for the promulgation by the Administrator of regulations or orders fixing such maximum prices of commodities and rents as will effectuate the purposes of the Act and conform to the standards which it prescribes. The Act was adopted as a temporary wartime measure, and provides in § 1(b) for its termination on June 30, 1943, unless sooner
terminated by Presidential proclamation or concurrent resolution of Congress. By the amendatory Act of October 2, 1942, it was extended to June 30, 1944.
Section 1(a) declares that the Act is "in the interest of the national defense and security and necessary to the effective prosecution of the present war," and that its purposes are:
"to stabilize prices and to prevent speculative, unwarranted, and abnormal increases in prices and rents; to eliminate and prevent profiteering, hoarding, manipulation, speculation, and other disruptive practices resulting from abnormal market conditions or scarcities caused by or contributing to the national emergency; to assure that defense appropriations are not dissipated by excessive prices; to protect persons with relatively fixed and limited incomes, consumers, wage earners, investors, and persons dependent on life insurance, annuities, and pensions, from undue impairment of their standard of living; to prevent hardships to persons engaged in business, . . . and to the Federal, State, and local governments, which would result from abnormal increases in prices; to assist in securing adequate production of commodities and facilities; to prevent a post-emergency collapse of values; . . ."
The standards which are to guide the Administrator's exercise of his authority to fix prices, so far as now relevant, are prescribed by § 2(a) and by § 1 of the amendatory Act of October 2, 1942, and Executive Order 9250, promulgated under it. 7 Fed.Reg. 7871. By § 2(a), the Administrator is authorized, after consultation with representative members of the industry so far as practicable, to promulgate regulations fixing prices of commodities which "in his judgment will be generally fair and equitable and will effectuate the purposes of this Act" when, in his judgment, their prices "have risen or threaten to rise to an extent or in a manner inconsistent with the purposes of this Act."
The section also directs that
"So far as practicable, in establishing any maximum price, the Administrator shall ascertain and give due consideration to the prices prevailing between October 1 and October 15, 1941 (or if, in the case of any commodity, there are no prevailing prices between such dates, or the prevailing prices between such dates are not generally representative because of abnormal or seasonal market conditions or other cause, then to the prices prevailing during the nearest two-week period in which, in the judgment of the Administrator, the prices for such commodity are generally representative) . . . and shall make adjustments for such relevant factors as he may determine and deem to be of general applicability, including . . . [s]peculative fluctuations, general increases or decreases in costs of production, distribution, and transportation, and general increases or decreases in profits earned by sellers of the commodity or commodities, during and subsequent to the year ended October 1, 1941."
By the Act of October 2, 1942, the President is directed to stabilize prices, wages and salaries "so far as practicable" on the basis of the levels which existed on September 15, 1942, except as otherwise provided in the Act. By Title I, § 4 of Executive Order No. 9250, he has directed "all departments and agencies of the Government" "to stabilize the cost of living in accordance with the Act of October 2, 1942." [Footnote 1]
Revised Maximum Price Regulation No. 169 was issued December 10, 1942, under authority of the Emergency Price Control Act as amended and Executive Order No. 9250. The Regulation established specific maximum
prices for the sale at wholesale of specified cuts of beef and veal. As is required by § 2(a) of the Act, it was accompanied by a "statement of the considerations involved" in prescribing it. From the preamble to the Regulation and from the Statement of Considerations accompanying it, it appears that the prices fixed for sales at wholesale were slightly in excess of those prevailing between March 16 and March 28, 1942, [Footnote 2] and approximated those prevailing on September 15, 1942. Findings that the Regulation was necessary, that the prices which it fixed were fair and equitable, and that it otherwise conformed to the standards prescribed by the Act, appear in the Statement of Considerations.
That Congress has constitutional authority to prescribe commodity prices as a war emergency measure, and that the Act was adopted by Congress in the exercise of that power, are not questioned here, and need not now be considered save as they have a bearing on the procedural
features of the Act later to be considered which are challenged on constitutional grounds.
Congress enacted the Emergency Price Control Act in pursuance of a defined policy, and required that the prices fixed by the Administrator should further that policy and conform to standards prescribed by the Act. The boundaries of the field of the Administrator's permissible action are marked by the statute. It directs that the prices fixed shall effectuate the declared policy of the Act to stabilize commodity prices so as to prevent wartime inflation and its enumerated disruptive causes and effects. In addition, the prices established must be fair and equitable, and, in fixing them, the Administrator is directed to give due consideration, so far as practicable, to prevailing prices during the designated base period, with prescribed administrative adjustments to compensate for enumerated disturbing factors affecting prices. In short, the purposes of the Act specified in § 1 denote the objective to be sought by the Administrator in fixing prices -- the prevention of inflation and its enumerated consequences. The standards set out in § 2 define the boundaries within which prices having that purpose must be fixed. It is enough to satisfy the statutory requirements that the Administrator finds that the prices fixed will tend to achieve that objective and will conform to those standards, and that the courts, in an appropriate proceeding, can see that substantial basis for those findings is not wanting.
The Act is thus an exercise by Congress of its legislative power. In it, Congress has stated the legislative objective, has prescribed the method of achieving that objective -- maximum price-fixing -- and has laid down standards to guide the administrative determination of both the occasions for the exercise of the price-fixing power, and the particular prices to be established. Compare Field v. Clark,143 U. S. 649; Hampton & Co. v. United States, 276
U.S. 394; Currin v. Wallace,306 U. S. 1; Mulford v. Smith,307 U. S. 38; United States v. Rock Royal Co-op.,307 U. S. 533; Sunshine Anthracite Coal Co. v. Adkins,310 U. S. 381; Opp Cotton Mills v. Administrator,312 U. S. 126; National Broadcasting Co. v. United States,319 U. S. 190; Hirabayashi v. United States,320 U. S. 81.
The Act is unlike the National Industrial Recovery Act of June 16, 1933, 48 Stat. 195, considered in Schechter Corp. v. United States,295 U. S. 495, which proclaimed in the broadest terms its purpose "to rehabilitate industry and to conserve natural resources." It prescribed no method of attaining that end save by the establishment of codes of fair competition, the nature of whose permissible provisions was left undefined. It provided no standards to which those codes were to conform. The function of formulating the codes was delegated not to a public official responsible to Congress or the Executive, but to private individuals engaged in the industries to be regulated. Compare Sunshine Coal Co. v. Adkins, supra,310 U. S. 399.
The Constitution, as a continuously operative charter of government, does not demand the impossible or the impracticable. It does not require that Congress find for itself every fact upon which it desires to base legislative action, or that it make for itself detailed determinations which it has declared to be prerequisite to the application of the legislative policy to particular facts and circumstances impossible for Congress itself properly to investigate. The essentials of the legislative function are the determination of the legislative policy and its formulation and promulgation as a defined and binding rule of conduct -- here, the rule, with penal sanctions, that prices shall not be greater than those fixed by maximum price regulations which conform to standards and will tend to further the policy which Congress has established. These essentials are preserved when Congress has specified the basic conditions of fact upon whose existence or occurrence,
ascertained from relevant data by a designated administrative agency, it directs that its statutory command shall be effective. It is no objection that the determination of facts and the inferences to be drawn from them in the light of the statutory standards and declaration of policy call for the exercise of judgment, and for the formulation of subsidiary administrative policy within the prescribed statutory framework. See Opp Cotton Mills v. Administrator, supra,312 U. S. 145-146, and cases cited.
Nor does the doctrine of separation of powers deny to Congress power to direct that an administrative officer properly designated for that purpose have ample latitude within which he is to ascertain the conditions which Congress has made prerequisite to the operation of its legislative command. Acting within its constitutional power to fix prices, it is for Congress to say whether the data on the basis of which prices are to be fixed are to be confined within a narrow or a broad range. In either case, the only concern of courts is to ascertain whether the will of Congress has been obeyed. This depends not upon the breadth of the definition of the facts or conditions which the administrative officer is to find, but upon the determination whether the definition sufficiently marks the field within which the Administrator is to act so that it may be known whether he has kept within it in compliance with the legislative will.
As we have said,
"The Constitution has never been regarded as denying to the Congress the necessary resources of flexibility and practicality . . . to perform its function."
Currin v. Wallace, supra,306 U. S. 15. Hence, it is irrelevant that Congress might itself have prescribed the maximum prices or have provided a more rigid standard by which they are to be fixed; for example, that all prices should be frozen at the levels obtaining during a certain period or on a certain date. See Union Bridge Co. v. United States,204 U. S. 364, 204 U. S. 386. Congress is not confined
to that method of executing its policy which involves the least possible delegation of discretion to administrative officers. Compare 17 U. S. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 17 U. S. 413et seq. It is free to avoid the rigidity of such a system, which might well result in serious hardship, and to choose instead the flexibility attainable by the use of less restrictive standards. Cf. Hampton & Co. v. United States, supra,276 U. S. 408, 276 U. S. 409. Only if we could say that there is an absence of standards for the guidance of the Administrator's action, so that it would be impossible in a proper proceeding to ascertain whether the will of Congress has been obeyed, would we be justified in overriding its choice of means for effecting its declared purpose of preventing inflation.
The standards prescribed by the present Act, with the aid of the "statement of considerations" required to be made by the Administrator, are sufficiently definite and precise to enable Congress, the courts and the public to ascertain whether the Administrator, in fixing the designated prices, has conformed to those standards. Compare Hirabayashi v. United States, supra,320 U. S. 104. Hence, we are unable to find in them an unauthorized delegation of legislative power. The authority to fix prices only when prices have risen or threaten to rise to an extent or in a manner inconsistent with the purpose of the Act to prevent inflation is no broader than the authority to fix maximum prices when deemed necessary to protect consumers against unreasonably high prices, sustained in Sunshine Anthracite Coal Co. v. Adkins, supra, or the authority to take possession of and operate telegraph lines whenever deemed necessary for the national security or defense, upheld in Dakota Central Tel. Co. v. South Dakota,250 U. S. 163; or the authority to suspend tariff provisions upon findings that the duties imposed by a foreign state are "reciprocally unequal and unreasonable," held valid in Field v. Clark, supra.
The directions that the prices fixed shall be fair and equitable, that, in addition, they shall tend to promote the purposes of the Act, and that, in promulgating them, consideration shall be given to prices prevailing in a stated base period, confer no greater reach for administrative determination than the power to fix just and reasonable rates, see Sunshine Coal Co. v. Adkins, supra, and cases cited; or the power to approve consolidations in the "public interest," sustained in New York Central Securities Corp. v. United States,287 U. S. 12, 287 U. S. 24-25 (compare United States v. Lowden,308 U. S. 225); or the power to regulate radio stations engaged in chain broadcasting "as public interest, convenience or necessity requires," upheld in National Broadcasting Co. v. United States, supra,319 U. S. 225-226; or the power to prohibit "unfair methods of competition" not defined or forbidden by the common law, Federal Trade Commission v. Keppel & Bro.,291 U. S. 304; or the direction that, in allotting marketing quotas among states and producers, due consideration be given to a variety of economic factors, sustained in Mulford v. Smith, supra,307 U. S. 49; or the similar direction that, in adjusting tariffs to meet differences in costs of production, the President "take into consideration" "insofar as he finds it practicable" a variety of economic matters, sustained in Hampton & Co. v. United States, supra; or the similar authority, in making classifications within an industry, to consider various named and unnamed "relevant factors" and determine the respective weights attributable to each, held valid in Opp Cotton Mills v. Administrator, supra.
We consider next the question whether the procedure which Congress has established for determining the validity of the Administrator's regulations is exclusive, so as to preclude the defense of invalidity of the Regulation in this criminal prosecution for its violation under §§ 4(a) and
205(b). Section 203(a) sets up a procedure by which "any person subject to any provision of a regulation or order" may, within sixty days after it is issued, "file a protest specifically setting forth objections to any such provision and affidavits or other written evidence in support of such objections." He may similarly protest later, on grounds arising after the expiration of the original sixty days. The subsection directs that, within a reasonable time and in no event more than thirty days after the filing of a protest or ninety days after the issue of the regulation protested, whichever is later,
"the Administrator shall either grant or deny such protest in whole or in part, notice such protest for hearing, or provide an opportunity to present further evidence in connection therewith. In the event that the Administrator denies any such protest in whole or in part, he shall inform the protestant of the grounds upon which such decision is based, and of any economic data and other facts of which the Administrator has taken official notice."
Section 204(c) creates a court to be known as the Emergency Court of Appeals consisting of United States district or circuit judges designated by the Chief Justice of the United States. Section 204(a) authorizes any person aggrieved by the denial or partial denial of his protest to file a complaint with the Emergency Court of Appeals within thirty days after the denial, praying that the regulation, order or price schedule protested be enjoined or set aside in whole or in part. The court may issue such an injunction only if it finds that the regulation, order or price schedule "is not in accordance with law, or is arbitrary or capricious." (Subsection (b).) It is denied power to issue a temporary restraining order or interlocutory decree. (Subsection (c).) The effectiveness of any permanent injunction it may issue is postponed for thirty days, and, if review by this Court is sought upon writ of certiorari, as authorized by subsection (d), its effectiveness is further
postponed until final disposition of the case by this Court by denial of certiorari or decision upon the merits. (Subsection (b).)
Section 204(d) declares:
"The Emergency Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court upon review of judgments and orders of the Emergency Court of Appeals, shall have exclusive jurisdiction to determine the validity of any regulation or order issued under section 2, of any price schedule effective in accordance with the provisions of section 206, and of any provision of any such regulation, order, or price schedule. Except as provided in this section, no court, Federal, State, or Territorial, shall have jurisdiction or power to consider the validity of any such regulation, order, or price schedule, or to stay, restrain, enjoin, or set aside, in whole or in part, any provision of this Act authorizing the issuance of such regulations or orders, or making effective any such price schedule, or any provision of any such regulation, order, or price schedule, or to restrain or enjoin the enforcement of any such provision."
In Lockerty v. Phillips, supra, we held that these provisions conferred on the Emergency Court of Appeals, subject to review by this Court, exclusive equity jurisdiction to restrain enforcement of price regulations of the Administrator and that they withdrew such jurisdiction from all other courts. This was accomplished by the exercise of the constitutional power of Congress to prescribe the jurisdiction of inferior federal courts, and the jurisdiction of all state courts to determine federal questions, and to vest that jurisdiction in a single court, the Emergency Court of Appeals.
The considerations which led us to that conclusion with respect to the equity jurisdiction of the district court, lead to the like conclusion as to its power to consider the validity of a price regulation as a defense to a criminal prosecution for its violation. The provisions of § 204(d), conferring
upon the Emergency Court of Appeals and this Court "exclusive jurisdiction to determine the validity of any regulation or order," coupled with the provision that "no court, Federal, State or Territorial, shall have jurisdiction or power to consider the validity of any such regulation," are broad enough in terms to deprive the district court of power to consider the validity of the Administrator's regulation or order as a defense to a criminal prosecution for its violation.
That such was the intention of Congress appears from the report of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, recommending the adoption of the bill which contained the provisions of § 204(d). After pointing out that the bill provided for exclusive jurisdiction of the Emergency Court and the Supreme Court to determine the validity of regulations or orders issued under § 2, the Committee said:
"The courts in which criminal or civil enforcement proceedings are brought have jurisdiction, concurrently with the Emergency Court, to determine the constitutional validity of the statute itself."
Sen.Rep. 931, 77th Cong., 2d Sess., p. 25. That the Committee, in making this statement, intended to distinguish between the validity of the statute and that of a regulation, and to permit consideration only of the former in defense to a criminal prosecution, is further borne out by the fact that the bill as introduced in the House had provided that the Emergency Court of Appeals should have exclusive jurisdiction to determine the validity of the provisions of the Act authorizing price regulations, as well as of the regulations themselves. H.R. 5479, 77th Cong., 1st Sess., printed in Hearings before Committee on Banking and Currency, House of Representatives, 77th Cong., 2d Sess., on H.R. 5479, pp. 4, 7-8.
Congress, in thus authorizing consideration by the district court of the validity of the Act alone, gave clear indication that the validity of the Administrator's regulations
or orders should not be subject to attack in criminal prosecutions for their violation, at least before their invalidity had been adjudicated by recourse to the protest procedure prescribed by the statute. Such, we conclude, is the correct construction of the Act.
We come to the question whether the provisions of the Act, so construed as to deprive petitioners of opportunity to attack the Regulation in a prosecution for its violation, deprive them of the due process of law guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. At the trial, petitioners offered to prove that the Regulation would compel them to sell beef at such prices as would render it impossible for wholesalers such as they are, no matter how efficient, to conduct their business other than at a loss. Section 4(d) declares that "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require any person to sell any commodity . . ." Petitioners were therefore not required by the Act, nor, so far as appears, by any other rule of law, to continue selling meat at wholesale if they could not do so without loss. But they argue that to impose on them the choice either of refraining from sales of beef at wholesale or of running the risk of numerous criminal prosecutions and suits for treble damages authorized by § 205(e), without the benefit of any temporary injunction or stay pending determination by the prescribed statutory procedure of the Regulation's validity, is so harsh in its application to them as to deny them due process of law. In addition, they urge the inadequacy of the administrative procedure, and particularly of the sixty days' period afforded by the Act within which to prepare and lodge a protest with the Administrator.
In considering these asserted hardships, it is appropriate to take into account the purposes of the Act and the circumstances attending its enactment and application as a wartime emergency measure. The Act was adopted January
30, 1942, shortly after our declaration of war against Germany and Japan, when it was common knowledge, as is emphasized by the legislative history of the Act, that there was grave danger of wartime inflation and the disorganization of our economy from excessive price rises. Congress was under pressing necessity of meeting this danger by a practicable and expeditious means which would operate with such promptness, regularity and consistency as would minimize the sudden development of commodity price disparities, accentuated by commodity shortages occasioned by the war.
Inflation is accelerated and its consequences aggravated by price disparities not based on geographic or other relevant differentials. The harm resulting from delayed or unequal price control is beyond repair. And one of the problems involved in the prevention of inflation by establishment of a nationwide system of price control is the disorganization which would result if enforcement of price orders were delayed or sporadic, or were unequal or conflicting in different parts of the country. These evils might well arise if regulations with respect to which there was full opportunity for administrative revision were to be made ineffective by injunction or stay of their enforcement in advance of such revision or of final determination of their validity.
Congress, in enacting the Emergency Price Control Act, was familiar with the consistent history of delay in utility rate cases. It had in mind the dangers to price control as a preventive of inflation if the validity and effectiveness of prescribed maximum prices were to be subject to the exigencies and delays of litigation originating in eighty-five district courts and continued by separate appeals through eleven separate courts of appeals to this Court, to say nothing of litigation conducted in state courts. See Sen.Rep. No. 931, 77th Cong., 2d Sess., pp. 23-25.
Congress sought to avoid or minimize these difficulties by the establishment of a single procedure for review of the Administrator's regulations, beginning with an appeal to the Administrator's specialized knowledge and experience gained in the administration of the Act, and affording to him an opportunity to modify the regulations and orders complained of before resort to judicial determination of their validity. The organization of such an exclusive procedure especially adapted to the exigencies and requirements of a nationwide scheme of price regulation is, as we have seen, within the constitutional power of Congress to create inferior federal courts and prescribe their jurisdiction. The considerations which led to its creation are similar to, and certainly no weaker than, those which led this Court, in Texas & Pacific Ry. Co. v. Abilene Cotton Oil Co.,204 U. S. 426, and the long line of cases following it, to require resort to the Interstate Commerce Commission and the special statutory method provided for review of its decisions in certain types of cases involving railway rates. As with the present statute, it was thought desirable to preface all judicial action by resort to expert administrative knowledge and experience, and thus minimize the confusion that would result from inconsistent decisions of district and circuit courts rendered without the aid of an administrative interpretation. In addition, the present Act seeks further to avoid that confusion by restricting judicial review of the administrative determination to a single court. Such a procedure, so long as it affords to those affected a reasonable opportunity to be heard and present evidence, does not offend against due process. Bradley v. Richmond,227 U. S. 477; First National Bank v. Weld County,264 U. S. 450; Anniston Mfg. Co. v. Davis,301 U. S. 337.
Petitioners assert that they have been denied that opportunity because the sixty days' period allowed for filling a protest is insufficient for that purpose; because the procedure
before the Administrator is inadequate to ensure due process; because the statute precludes any interlocutory injunction staying enforcement of a price regulation before final adjudication of its validity; because the trial of the issue of validity of a regulation is excluded from the criminal trial for its violation, and because, in any case, there is nothing in the statute to prevent their conviction for violation of a regulation before they could secure a ruling on its validity. A sufficient answer to all these contentions is that petitioners have failed to seek the administrative remedy and the statutory review which were open to them, and that they have not shown that, had they done so, any of the consequences which they apprehend would have ensued to any extent whatever, or, if they should, that the statute withholds judicial remedies adequate to protect petitioners' rights.
For the purposes of this case, in passing upon the sufficiency of the procedure on protest to the Administrator and complaint to the Emergency Court, it is irrelevant to suggest that the Administrator or the Court has in the past or may in the future deny due process. Action taken by them is reviewable in this Court, and, if contrary to due process, will be corrected here. Hence, we have no occasion to pass upon determinations of the Administrator or the Emergency Court, said to violate due process, which have never been brought here for review, and obviously we cannot pass upon action which might have been taken on a protest by petitioners, who have never made a protest or in any way sought the remedy Congress has provided. In the absence of any proceeding before the Administrator, we cannot assume that he would fail in the performance of any duty imposed on him by the Constitution and laws of the United States, or that he would deny due process to petitioners by "loading the record against them" or denying such hearing as the Constitution prescribes. Plymouth Coal Co. v. Pennsylvania,232 U. S. 531, 232 U. S. 545; Hall
v. Geiger-Jones Co.,242 U. S. 539, 242 U. S. 554; Minnesota v. Probate Court,309 U. S. 270, 309 U. S. 277, and cases cited. Only if we could say in advance of resort to the statutory procedure that it is incapable of affording due process to petitioners could we conclude that they have shown any legal excuse for their failure to resort to it or that their constitutional rights have been or will be infringed. Natural Gas Co. v. Slattery,302 U. S. 300, 302 U. S. 309; Anniston Mfg. Co. v. Davis, supra,301 U. S. 356-357; Minnesota v. Probate Court, supra,309 U. S. 275, 309 U. S. 277. But, upon a full examination of the provisions of the statute, it is evident that the authorized procedure is not incapable of affording the protection to petitioners' rights required by due process.
The regulations, which are given the force of law, are published in the Federal Register, and constructive notice of their contents is thus given all persons affected by them. 44 U.S.C. § 307. The penal provisions of the statute are applicable only to violations of a regulation which are willful. Petitioners have not contended that they were unaware of the Regulation, and the jury found that they knowingly violated it within eight days after its issue.
The sixty days' period allowed for protest of the Administrator's regulations cannot be said to be unreasonably short in view of the urgency and exigencies of wartime price regulation. [Footnote 3] Here, the Administrator is required to act initially upon the protest within thirty days after it is filed or ninety days after promulgation of the challenged regulation, by allowing the protest wholly or in part, or denying it or setting it down for hearing. (§ 203(a).)
But we cannot say that the Administrator would not have allowed ample time for the presentation of evidence. [Footnote 4] And, under § 204(a), petitioners could have applied to the Emergency Court of Appeals for leave to introduce any additional evidence "which could not reasonably" have been offered to the Administrator or included in the proceedings before him, and could have applied to the Administrator to modify or change his decision in the light of that evidence.
Nor can we say that the administrative hearing provided by the statute will prove inadequate. We hold in Bowles v. Willingham, post, p. 321 U. S. 503, that, in the circumstances to which this Act was intended to apply, the failure to afford a hearing prior to the issue of a price regulation does not offend against due process. While the hearing on a protest may be restricted to the presentation of documentary evidence, affidavits and briefs, the Act contemplates, and the Administrator's regulations provide for, a full oral hearing upon a showing that written evidence and briefs "will not permit the fair and expeditious disposition of the protest." (§ 203(a); Revised Procedural Regulation No. 1, § 1300.39, 7 Fed.Reg. 891.) In advance of application to the Administrator for such a hearing, we cannot well say whether its denial in any particular case would be a denial of due process. The Act requires the Administrator to inform the protestant of the grounds for his decision denying a protest, including all matters of which he has taken official notice. (§ 203(a).) In view of the provisions for the introduction of further evidence both before and after the Administrator has announced his determination, we cannot say that, if petitioners had filed a protest adequate
opportunity would not have been afforded them to meet any arguments and evidence put forward by the Administrator, or that, if such opportunity had been denied, the denial would not have been corrected by the Emergency Court.
The Emergency Court has power to review all questions of law, including the question whether the Administrator's determination is supported by evidence, and any question of the denial of due process or any procedural error appropriately raised in the course of the proceedings. No reason is advanced why petitioners could not, throughout the statutory proceeding, raise and preserve any due process objection to the statute, the regulations, or the procedure, and secure its full judicial review by the Emergency Court of Appeals and this Court. Compare White v. Johnson,282 U. S. 367, 282 U. S. 374. [Footnote 5]
In the circumstances of this case, we find no denial of due process in the statutory prohibition of a temporary stay or injunction. The present statute is not open to the objection that petitioners are compelled to serve the public as in the case of a public utility, or that the only method by which they can test the validity of the regulations
promulgated under it is by violating the statute and thus subjecting themselves to the possible imposition of severe and cumulative penalties. See Ex parte Young,209 U. S. 123; Willcox v. Consolidated Gas Co.,212 U. S. 19, 212 U. S. 53; Missouri Pacific Ry. Co. v. Tucker,230 U. S. 340; Oklahoma Operating Co. v. Love,252 U. S. 331. For as we have seen, § 4(d) specifically provides that no one shall be compelled to sell any commodity, and the statute itself provides an expeditious means of testing the validity of any price regulation, without necessarily incurring any of the penalties of the Act. Compare Wadley Southern Ry. Co. v. Georgia,235 U. S. 651, 235 U. S. 667-669.
The petitioners are not confronted with the choice of abandoning their businesses or subjecting themselves to the penalties of the Act before they have sought and secured a determination of the Regulation's validity. It is true that, if the Administrator denies a protest no stay or injunction may become effective before the final decision of the Emergency Court or of this Court if review here is sought. It is also true that the process of reaching a final decision may be time-consuming. But while courts have no power to suspend or ameliorate the operation of a regulation during the pendency of proceedings to determine its validity, we cannot say that the Administrator has no such power or assume that he would not exercise it in an appropriate case.
The Administrator, who is the author of the regulations, is given wide discretion as to the time and conditions of their issue and continued effect. Section 2(a) authorizes him to issue such regulations as will effectuate the purposes of the Act, whenever, in his judgment, such action is necessary. Section 201(d) similarly authorizes him "from time to time" to issue regulations when necessary and proper to effectuate the purposes of the Act. One of the objects of the protest provisions is to enable the Administrator more fully to inform himself as to the wisdom
of a regulation through evidence of its effect on particular cases. In the light of that information, he is authorized by 203(a) to grant or deny a protest "in whole or in part." And § 204(a) authorizes the Administrator to modify or rescind a regulation "at any time." [Footnote 6] Moreover, 2(a) further authorizes the issue, in the Administrator's judgment, of temporary regulations, effective for sixty days,
"establishing as a maximum . . . the price . . . prevailing with respect to any commodity . . . within five days prior to the date of issuance of such temporary regulations. . . ."
Under these sections, the Administrator may not only alter or set aside the regulation, but he has wide scope for the exercise of his discretionary power to modify or suspend a regulation pending its administrative and judicial review. Hence, we cannot assume that petitioners, had they applied to the Administrator, would not have secured all the relief to which they were entitled. The denial of a right to a restraining order or interlocutory injunction to one who has failed to apply for available administrative relief, not shown to be inadequate, is not a denial of due process. Natural Gas Co. v. Slattery, supra,302 U. S. 310.
In any event, we are unable to say that the denial of interlocutory relief pending a judicial determination of the validity of the regulation would, in the special circumstances of this case, involve a denial of constitutional right. If the alternatives, as Congress could have concluded, were wartime inflation or the imposition on individuals of the burden of complying with a price regulation while its validity is being determined, Congress could constitutionally make the choice in favor of the protection of the public interest from the dangers of inflation. Compare
Miller v. Schone,276 U. S. 272, in which we held that the Fourteenth Amendment did not preclude a state from compelling the uncompensated destruction of private property in order to preserve important public interests from destruction.
The award of an interlocutory injunction by courts of equity has never been regarded as strictly a matter of right, even though irreparable injury may otherwise result to the plaintiff. Compare Scripps-Howard Radio v. Federal Communications Comm'n,316 U. S. 4, 316 U. S. 10, and cases cited. Even in suits in which only private interests are involved, the award is a matter of sound judicial discretion, in the exercise of which the court balances the conveniences of the parties and possible injuries to them according as they may be affected by the granting or withholding of the injunction. Meccano, Ltd. v. John Wanamaker,253 U. S. 136, 253 U. S. 141; Rice & Adams Corp. v. Lathrop,278 U. S. 509, 278 U. S. 514. And it will avoid such inconvenience and injury, so far as may be, by attaching conditions to the award, such as the requirement of an injunction bond conditioned upon payment of any damage caused by the injunction if the plaintiff's contentions are not sustained. Prendrgast v. New York Telephone Co.,262 U. S. 43, 262 U. S. 51; Ohio Oil Co. v.Conway,279 U. S. 813, 279 U. S. 815.
But where an injunction is asked which will adversely affect a public interest for whose impairment, even temporarily, an injunction bond cannot compensate, the court may, in the public interest, withhold relief until a final determination of the rights of the parties, though the postponement may be burdensome to the plaintiff. [Footnote 7] Virginian
Ry. Co. v. United States,272 U. S. 658, 272 U. S. 672-673; Petroleum Exploration Co. v. Public Service Comm'n,304 U. S. 209, 304 U. S. 222-223; Dryfoos v. Edwards, 284 F. 596, 603, affirmed,251 U. S. 251 U.S. 146; see Beaumont, S. L. & W. Ry. Co. v. United States,282 U. S. 74, 282 U. S. 91, 282 U. S. 92. Compare Wisconsin v. Illinois,278 U. S. 367, 278 U. S. 418-421. This is but another application of the principle, declared in Virginian Ry. Co. v. System Federation,300 U. S. 515, 300 U. S. 552, that
"Courts of equity may, and frequently do, go much further both to give and withhold relief in furtherance of the public interest than they are accustomed to go when only private interests are involved."
Here, in the exercise of the power to protect the national economy from the disruptive influences of inflation in time of war, Congress has seen fit to postpone injunctions restraining the operations of price regulations until their lawfulness could be ascertained by an appropriate and expeditious procedure. In so doing, it has done only what a court of equity could have done in the exercise of its discretion to protect the public interest. What the courts
could do, Congress can do as the guardian of the public interest of the nation in time of war. The legislative formulation of what would otherwise be a rule of judicial discretion is not a denial of due process or a usurpation of judicial functions. Cf. Demorest v. City Bank Co.,321 U. S. 36. [Footnote 8]
Our decisions leave no doubt that, when justified by compelling public interest, the legislature may authorize summary action subject to later judicial review of its validity. It may insist on the immediate collection of taxes. Phillips v. Commissioner,283 U. S. 589, 283 U. S. 595-597 and cases cited. It may take possession of property presumptively abandoned by its owner, prior to determination of
its actual abandonment. Anderson National Bank v. Luckett,321 U. S. 233. For the protection of public health, it may order the summary destruction of property without prior notice or hearing. North American Cold Storage Co. v. Chicago,211 U. S. 306; Adams v. Milwaukee,228 U. S. 572, 228 U. S. 584. It may summarily requisition property immediately needed for the prosecution of the war. Compare United States v. Pfitsch,256 U. S. 547. As a measure of public protection, the property of alien enemies may be seized, and property believed to be owned by enemies taken without prior determination of its true ownership. Central Union Trust Co. v. Garvan,254 U. S. 554, 254 U. S. 566; Stoehr v. Wallace,255 U. S. 239, 255 U. S. 245. Similarly, public necessity in time of war may justify allowing tenants to remain in in possession against the will of the landlord. Block v. Hirsh,256 U. S. 135; Marcus Brown Co. v. Feldman,256 U. S. 170. Even the personal liberty of the citizen may be temporarily restrained as a measure of public safety. Hirabayashi v. United States, supra; cf. Jacobson v. Massachusetts,197 U. S. 11. Measured by these standards, we find no denial of due process under the circumstances in which this Act was adopted and must be applied, in its denial of any judicial stay pending determination of a regulation's validity.
As we have seen, Congress, through its power to define the jurisdiction of inferior federal courts and to create such courts for the exercise of the judicial power, could, subject to other constitutional limitations, create the Emergency Court of Appeals, give to it exclusive equity jurisdiction to determine the validity of price regulations prescribed by the Administrator, and foreclose any further or other consideration of the validity of a regulation as a defense to a prosecution for its violation.
Unlike most penal statutes and regulations, whose validity can be determined only by running the risk of violation, see Douglas v. City of Jeannette,319 U. S. 157, 319 U. S. 163, the present statute provides a mode of testing the validity of a regulation by an independent administrative proceeding. There is no constitutional requirement that that test be made in one tribunal, rather than in another, so long as there is an opportunity to be heard and for judicial review which satisfies the demands of due process, as is the case here. This was recognized in Bradley v. Richmond, supra, and in Wadley Southern Ry. Co. v. Georgia, supra,235 U. S. 667, 235 U. S. 669, and has never been doubted by this Court. And we are pointed to no principle of law or provision of the Constitution which precludes Congress from making criminal the violation of an administrative regulation, by one who has failed to avail himself of an adequate separate procedure for the adjudication of its validity, or which precludes the practice, in many ways desirable, of splitting the trial for violations of an administrative regulation by committing the determination of the issue of its validity to the agency which created it, and the issue of violation to a court which is given jurisdiction to punish violations. Such a requirement presents no novel constitutional issue.
No procedural principle is more familiar to this Court than that a constitutional right may be forfeited in criminal, as well as civil, cases by the failure to make timely assertion of the right before a tribunal having jurisdiction to determine it. O'Neil v. Vermont,144 U. S. 323, 144 U. S. 331; Barbour v. Georgia,249 U. S. 454, 249 U. S. 460; Whitney v. California,274 U. S. 357, 274 U. S. 360, 274 U. S. 362, 274 U. S. 380. Courts may, for that reason, refuse to consider a constitutional objection even though a like objection had previously been sustained in a case in which it was properly taken. Seaboard Air Line Ry. Co. v. Watson,287 U. S. 86. While this Court, in its
discretion, sometimes departs from this rule in cases from lower federal courts, it invariably adheres to it in cases from state courts, see Brandeis, J. concurring in Whitney v. California, supra,274 U. S. 380, and it could hardly be maintained that it is beyond legislative power to make the rule inflexible in all cases. Compare Woolsey v. Best,299 U. S. 1, with Ex parte Siebold,100 U. S. 371.
For more than fifty years, it has been a penal offense for shippers and interstate rail carriers to fail to observe the duly filed tariffs fixing freight rates -- including, since 1906, rates prescribed by the Commission -- even though the validity of those rates is open to attack only in a separate administrative proceeding before the Interstate Commerce Commission. 49 U.S.C. §§ 6(7), 10(1); Armour Packing Co. v. United States,209 U. S. 56, 209 U. S. 81; United States v. Adams Express Co.,229 U. S. 381, 229 U. S. 388. It is no defense to a prosecution for departure from a rate fixed by the filed tariffs that the rate is unreasonable or otherwise unlawful where its infirmity has not first been established by an independent proceeding before the Interstate Commerce Commission, and the denial of the defense in such a case does not violate any provision of the Constitution. United States v. Vacuum Oil Co., 158 F. 536, 539-541; Lehigh Valley R. Co. v. United States, 188 F. 879, 887-888. See also United States v. Standard Oil Co., 155 F. 305, 309-310, reversed on other grounds, 164 F. 376. Compare Pennsylvania R. Co. v. International Coal Co.,230 U. S. 184, 230 U. S. 196-197; Arizona Grocery Co. v. Atchison, T. & S.F. Ry. Co.,284 U. S. 370, 24 U. S. 384. Similarly, it has been held that one who has failed to avail himself of the statutory method of review of orders of the Secretary of Agriculture under the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921, or of the Federal Radio Commission under the Radio Act of 1927, cannot enjoin threatened prosecutions for violation of those orders, United States v. Corrick,298 U. S. 435, 298 U. S. 440;
The analogy of such a procedure to the present, by which violation of a price regulation is made penal, unless the offender has established its unlawfulness by an independent statutory proceeding, is complete and obvious. As we have pointed out, such a requirement is objectionable only if, by statutory command or in operation, it will deny to those charged with violations an adequate opportunity to be heard on the question of validity. And, as we have seen, petitioners fail to show that such is the necessary effect of the present statute, or that, if so applied as to deprive them of an adequate opportunity to establish the invalidity of a regulation, there would not be adequate means of securing appropriate judicial relief in the course either of the statutory proceeding or of the criminal trial. During the present term of court, we have held that one charged with criminal violations of an order of his draft board may not challenge the validity of the order if he has failed to pursue to completion the exclusive administrative remedies provided by the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940. Falbo v. United States,320 U. S. 549, and see Bowles v. United States,319 U. S. 33. We perceive no tenable ground for distinguishing that case from this.
We have no occasion to decide whether one charged with criminal violation of a duly promulgated price regulation
may defend on the ground that the regulation is unconstitutional on its face. Nor do we consider whether one who is forced to trial and convicted of violation of a regulation, while diligently seeking determination of its validity by the statutory procedure, may thus be deprived of the defense that the regulation is invalid. There is no contention that the present regulation is void on its face, petitioners have taken no step to challenge its validity by the procedure which was open to them, and it does not appear that they have been deprived of the opportunity to do so. Even though the statute should be deemed to require it, any ruling at the criminal trial which would preclude the accused from showing that he had had no opportunity to establish the invalidity of the regulation by resort to the statutory procedure would be reviewable on appeal on constitutional grounds. It will be time enough to decide questions not involved in this case when they are brought to us for decision, as they may be, whether they arise in the Emergency Court of Appeals or in the district court upon a criminal trial.
In the exercise of the equity jurisdiction of the Emergency Court of Appeals to test the validity of a price regulation, a jury trial is not mandatory under the Seventh Amendment. Cf. Block v. Hirsh, supra,256 U. S. 158. Nor has there been any denial in the present criminal proceeding of the right, guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment, to a trial by a jury of the state and district where the crime was committed. Subject to the requirements of due process, which are here satisfied, Congress could make criminal the violation of a price regulation. The indictment charged a violation of the regulation in the district of trial, and the question whether petitioners had committed the crime thus charged in the indictment and defined by Congress, namely, whether they had violated the statute by willful disobedience of a price regulation promulgated by the
Administrator, was properly submitted to the jury. Cf. Falbo v. United States, supra.
* Together with No. 375, Rottenberg et al. v. United States, also on writ of certiorari to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
The parties have not discussed in briefs or on argument, and we do not find it necessary to consider, the precise effect of this direction to stabilize prices "so far as practicable" at the levels obtaining on September 15, 192, upon the standards laid down by § 2(a) of the Act and the discretion which they confer on the Administrator.
The use of the March 16-28, 1942, base period is explained by the fact that wholesale meat prices had already been stabilized at approximately that level by Maximum Price Regulation No. 169 as originally issued on June 19, 1942, 7 Fed.Reg. 4653, and by the General Maximum Price Regulation, issued April 28, 1942, 7 Fed.Reg. 3153, which forbade the sale of most commodities at prices in excess of the highest price charged by the seller during March, 1942. The Statement of Considerations accompanying the latter, 2 C.C.H. War Law Service -- Price Control,
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