Wednesday, August 12, 2009

History Lesson: Youngstown v. Sawyer

In response to the American steel workers strike during the Korean War in 1952, President Harry Truman decided he would take over the steel factories in order to keep steel production up to meet the needs of the military. After the Congress refused to authorize, by law, the president to outright seize the steel industry for military use, the Truman administration went to the Supreme Court to make the argument that the federal takeover of the steel industry was essential for national security and the safety of American forces. The Supreme Court ruling rebuffed President Truman, restricting the power of the president to claim unlimited executive authority and discretion in times of national emergency or upheaval. Here is an excerpt of the Supreme Court decision written by Justice Robert Jackson:

We may also suspect that they (the founding fathers) suspected that emergency powers would tend to kindle emergencies. Aside from suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the time of rebellion or invasion, when the public safety may require it, they made no express provision for the exercise of extraordinary authority because of a crisis. I do not think we rightfully may so amend their work, and, if we could, I am not convinced it would be wise to do so, although many modern nations have forthrightly recognized that war and economic crises may upset the normal balance between liberty and authority.

How relevant does this ruling seem today?

No comments:

Post a Comment