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Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (The Steel Seizure Case)

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Constitutional Law Keyed to Cohen

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Citation. 22 Ill.343 U.S. 579, 72 S. Ct. 863, 96 L. Ed. 1153, 30 LRRM 2172 (1952)

Brief Fact Summary. During the Korean War, President Truman in order to avoid a strike that would impede the war effort, issued an executive order seizing the mills and operating them under federal direction.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The President has limited inherent authority. He may have a legislative power in “theaters of war”. The President can act without Congress when it is an emergency and Congress has not negated such action that the President wishes to undertake.


Facts. During the Korean War, President Truman seized the steel mills so that a strike would not impede the Korean War effort. The United Steel Workers were upset that they were not getting paid enough and wanted a raise. President Truman was afraid that a strike would cause the United States to run out of steel. Congress had allowed the strike with the Taft Hartley Act passed in 1947 over President Truman’s veto. The Act gave the president the power to get an injunction against such strikes but Congress had rejected an amendment to permit government seizures to avoid serious shutdowns.

Issue. Can President Truman acting under the aggregate of his powers, exercise a law making power independent of Congress in order to protect serious national interests?

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