Amalgamated Meat Cutters v. Connally


The President issued an executive order that established a temporary freeze on price and wage increases for the meat packing industry.  However, large meat packing companies had renegotiated their union wages just prior to the order which were set to go into effect during the order’s established timeframe.  Therefore, the negotiated increase would violate the executive order.  The union sued the President for an injunction, arguing that the executive order was unconstitutional.  Prior to the executive order, Congress passed a law giving the President authority to set price, rent, wage, etc. controls.


Whether the executive order placing a wage and commodity price freeze was a constitutional act by the President, such that Congress provided too much legislative authority  in permitting him to set such prices and wages.


Yes, order upheld.  The court states that in this case, the authority granted to the President does not exceed an intolerable level.  However, there are limits relating to whether the delegation achieves an overall fairness in terms of the eventual power distribution.  The eventual distribution of power cannot be grossly inequitable.  Moreover, the delegated authority must be temporary – as in, there must be an expiration date.  Congress can grant the President temporary war power authority, for instance.

In delegating its authority, Congress must outline the broader policy and provide some guidelines for the policy’s execution through a description of conduct.  The idea is that Congress cannot simply delegate its authority to the Executive to avoid public accountability.  It is their duty to legislate and must be held electively accountable.

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