During the Korean War, a dispute arose between American steel
companies and their employees over the terms of new collective
After other efforts to resolve the dispute failed, the
Steelworkers Union gave notice of a nationwide strike.
President Harry Truman believed that a strike in the steel
industry would jeopardize the national defense.
Steel was an important part of nearly all weapons and war
few hours before the strike was to begin, Truman issued
Executive Order 10340, which directed Sawyer (Df), the Secretary
of Commerce, to take possession of the steel mills and keep them
The presidents of the various steel mills protested but obeyed,
staying on as operating managers for the US.
Within a few weeks, however, the steel companies sued Sawyer
(Df), claiming that the seizure was unlawful.
(Pl - Mill Owners Argued
The mill owners argued that Truman's order amounted to
lawmaking, a function delegated to Congress by the Constitution.
(Df - Truman Contended
Truman contended that he was acting within the scope of his
powers as Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces.
President Not Authority to Order Seizure
The President of the United States is not authorized to order
the seizure of the nation's steel mills.
For the President to issue an order (Congressional Act or
Must come from an act of Congress, OR
Must come from the Constitution.
Congress rejected a seizure technique amendment
No act of Congress permits such an action, and in debating the
Taft-Hartley Act, Congress rejected an amendment which would
have allowed the seizure technique to be used in labor disputes
to prevent work stoppages.
Constitution does not mention seizure, and it cannot be inferred
The Constitution does not contain express language authorizing a
seizure, and a seizure power cannot be inferred from the
aggregate of the President's powers under the Constitution.
Cannot seizure private property during a labor dispute
It is true that Presidents do have broad powers as Commander in
Chief of the Armed Forces, but the Constitution does not permit
the President to seize private property to prevent the
consequences of a labor dispute.
It is Congresss job to make law, not the President
In issuing his order, President Truman was making law, which is
the role of Congress. The President is limited to vetoing or
signing the laws Congress has made, and Congress would be
authorized to take private property for public use if it saw
Here, President Truman has usurped
the legislative power of Congress.
President Limited Law Making Function
Recommend laws he thinks is wise.
Veto laws he thinks are bad.
Article I, Section I
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a
Congress of the United States.
CONCURRENCE Justice Frankfurter
Look beyond constitutional text
It is proper to look beyond the constitutional text in deciding
the scope of the President's powers.
No extra-textual tradition
Since here there is no extra-textual tradition of a presidential
seizure power, seizure cannot be considered within the scope of
CONCURRENCE Justice Jackson
Analyze Scope of Presidential Powers (Place Executive acts into
Acts pursuant to express or implied authorization of
seizure executed by the President pursuant to an Act of
The President authority would be at a maximum.
Acts on which Congress is silent [absent]
OR there is concurrent
Depends on the imperatives of events.
Acts incompatible with the express or implied
will of Congress.
Lowest ebb [decline]
His Cont. powers MINUES Congress Const powers.
Discussion Third Category
The seizure at issue here falls into the third category.
It can be sustained only if a seizure power is within the power
of the executive and outside the power of Congress.
Emergency Legislation belongs to Congress
The power to legislate in emergencies belongs to Congress.
Therefore, the President was not authorized to
seize the steel mills.
CONCURRENCE Justice Douglas
Congress has the power to pay compensation for a seizure.
Congress can make a law that the president can enact.
Otherwise, this would expand Article II.
DISSENT Justice Vinson
The entire nations steel industry would have been shut down.
The President possess the Nations organ for foreign affairs.
The President sent a message to Congress stating his purpose of
the temporary action he took, until Congress could act, so
Congress would have something left.
The President was acting to execute a legislative program, the
Korean War that Congress had established.
That is within the President's power, and past Presidents have
taken similar prompt actions when it was necessary