Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer
343 U.S. 579 (1952)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952)

Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer

Argued May 12-13, 1952

Decided June 2, 1952*

343 U.S. 579

Syllabus

To avert a nationwide 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 a Federal District Court, praying for a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. The District Court issued a preliminary injunction, which the Court of Appeals stayed.

Held:

1. Although this case has proceeded no further than the preliminary injunction stage, it is ripe for determination of the constitutional validity of the Executive Order on the record presented. Pp. 343 U. S. 584-585.

(a) Under prior decisions of this Court, there is doubt as to the right to recover in the Court of Claims on account of properties unlawfully taken by government officials for public use. P. 343 U. S. 585.

(b) Seizure and governmental operation of these going businesses were bound to result in many present and future damages of such nature as to be difficult, if not incapable, of measurement. P. 343 U. S. 585.

Page 343 U. S. 580

2. The Executive Order was not authorized by the Constitution or laws of the United States, and it cannot stand. Pp. 343 U. S. 585-589.

(a) There is no statute which expressly or impliedly authorizes the President to take possession of this property as he did here. Pp. 343 U. S. 585-586.

(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. 343 U. S. 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. 343 U. S. 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. 343 U. S. 587.

(e) Nor can the Order be sustained because of the several provisions of Article II which grant executive power to the President. Pp. 343 U. S. 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. 343 U. S. 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." Pp. 343 U. S. 588-589.

103 F.Supp. 569, affirmed.

For concurring opinion of MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, see post, p. 343 U. S. 593.

For concurring opinion of MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, see post, p. 343 U. S. 629.

For concurring opinion of MR. JUSTICE JACKSON, see post, p. 343 U. S. 634.

For concurring opinion of MR. JUSTICE BURTON, see post, p. 343 U. S. 655.

For opinion of MR. JUSTICE CLARK, concurring in the judgment of the Court, see post, p. 343 U. S. 660.

For dissenting opinion of MR. CHIEF JUSTICE VINSON, joined by MR. JUSTICE REED and MR. JUSTICE MINTON, see post, p. 343 U. S. 667.

The District Court issued a preliminary injunction restraining the Secretary of Commerce from carrying out the terms of Executive Order No. 10340, 16 Fed.Reg.

Page 343 U. S. 581

3503. 103 F.Supp. 569. The Court of Appeals issued a stay. 90 U.S.App.D.C. ___, 197 F.2d 582. This Court granted certiorari. 343 U. S. 937. The judgment of the District Court is affirmed, p. 343 U. S. 589.

Page 343 U. S. 582

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