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The Executive Power

Another important separation of powers issue involves the power of the President. Article II of the Constitution, which deals with the President, is vague about the scope of presidential powers. This has led to attempts by Presidents to assert power that others argue does not rightly belong to them, as in the following case.


343 U.S. 579 (1952)
Mr. Justice BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

We are asked to decide whether the President was acting within his constitutional power when he issued an order directing the Secretary of Commerce to take possession of and operate most of the Nation’s steel mills. The mill owners argue that the President’s order amounts to lawmaking, a legislative function which the Constitution has expressly confided to the Congress and not to the President. The Government’s position is that the order was made on findings of the President that his action was necessary to avert a national catastrophe which would inevitably result from a stoppage of steel production, and that in meeting this grave emergency the President was acting within the aggregate of his constitutional powers as the Nation’s Chief Executive and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States. The issue emerges here from the following series of events:

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