Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer


During the Korean War demand increased naturally for steal and a labor strike threatened its supply, which in turn threatened the war effort.  Consequently, President Truman ordered the Secretary of Commerce to take over the steel industry and continue their operation.  Prior to seizure, the Administration set up a wage relations board seeking to prevent such a strike; but the strike came regardless.


Whether the President, under his executive authority pursuant to the War Powers Clause, can order the Secretary of Commerce to seize steel mills to maintain war supply.


No, the executive order is unconstitutional and therefore invalid.  Congress had not formally declared war, nor was there any specific legislative or constitutional authority for the administration to undertake such an action.  Moreover, Congress explicitly avoided granting such authorization on multiple occasions; therefore, such an action clearly contravenes the legislative branch.  The court stated that in order for such a war power to exist, there must be some authority found either within the constitution, through legislation, or implicitly within previous action or historical context.

The President is not the legislator in chief.  While the President may suggest legislation to Congress, he cannot single handedly undertake legislative action.  If Congress wished to seize the steel mills, they could have authorized the President to do so, but this had not happened.

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