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VINSON, C. J., dissenting.

343 U.S.

ilar to the War Labor Board of World War II, to carry out the title.'


The President authorized the Wage Stabilization Board (WSB), which administers the wage stabilization functions of Title IV of the Defense Production Act, also to deal with labor disputes affecting the defense program." When extension of the Defense Production Act was before Congress in 1951, the Chairman of the Wage Stabilization Board described in detail the relationship between the Taft-Hartley procedures applicable to labor disputes imperiling the national health and safety and the new WSB disputes procedures especially devised for settlement of labor disputes growing out of the needs of the defense program.93 Aware that a technique separate from Taft-Hartley had been devised, members of Congress attempted to divest the WSB of its disputes powers. These attempts were defeated in the House, were not brought to a vote in the Senate, and the Defense Production Act was extended through June 30, 1952, without change in the disputes powers of the WSB."

91 H. R. Rep. No. 3042, 81st Cong., 2d Sess. 35 (1950) (Conference Report). See also S. Rep. No. 2250, 81st Cong., 2d Sess. 41 (1950). 92 Exec. Order 10161, 15 Fed. Reg. 6105 (1950), as amended, Exec. Order 10233, 16 Fed. Reg. 3503 (1951).

93 Hearings before the House Committee on Banking and Currency on Defense Production Act Amendments of 1951, 82d Cong., 1st Sess. 305-306, 312-313 (1951).

94 The Lucas Amendment to abolish the disputes function of the WSB was debated at length in the House, the sponsor of the amendment pointing out the similarity of the WSB functions to those of the War Labor Board and noting the seizures that occurred when War Labor Board orders were not obeyed. 97 Cong. Rec. 8390-8415. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 217 to 113. Id., at 8415. A similar amendment introduced in the Senate was withdrawn. 97 Cong. Rec. 7373-7374. The Defense Production Act was extended without amending Tit. V or otherwise affecting the disputes functions of the WSB. 65 Stat. 132 (1951).


VINSON, C. J., dissenting.

Certainly this legislative creation of a new procedure for dealing with defense disputes negatives any notion that Congress intended the earlier and discretionary TaftHartley procedure to be an exclusive procedure.

Accordingly, as of December 22, 1951, the President had a choice between alternate procedures for settling the threatened strike in the steel mills: one route created to deal with peacetime disputes; the other route specially created to deal with disputes growing out of the defense and stabilization program. There is no question of bypassing a statutory procedure because both of the routes available to the President in December were based upon statutory authorization. Both routes were available in the steel dispute. The Union, by refusing to abide by the defense and stabilization program, could have forced the President to invoke Taft-Hartley at that time to delay the strike a maximum of 80 days. Instead, the Union agreed to cooperate with the defense program and submit the dispute to the Wage Stabilization Board.

Plaintiffs had no objection whatever at that time to the President's choice of the WSB route. As a result, the strike was postponed, a WSB panel held hearings and reported the position of the parties and the WSB recommended the terms of a settlement which it found were fair and equitable. Moreover, the WSB performed a function which the board of inquiry contemplated by Taft-Hartley could not have accomplished when it checked the recommended wage settlement against its own wage stabilization regulations issued pursuant to its stabilization functions under Title IV of the Defense Production Act. Thereafter, the parties bargained on the basis of the WSB recommendation.

When the President acted on April 8, he had exhausted the procedures for settlement available to him. TaftHartley was a route parallel to, not connected with, the WSB procedure. The strike had been delayed 99

343 U.S.

VINSON, C. J., dissenting.

days as contrasted with the maximum delay of 80 days under Taft-Hartley. There had been a hearing on the issues in dispute and bargaining which promised settlement up to the very hour before seizure had broken down. Faced with immediate national peril through stoppage in steel production on the one hand and faced with destruction of the wage and price legislative programs on the other, the President took temporary possession of the steel mills as the only course open to him consistent with his duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

Plaintiffs' property was taken and placed in the possession of the Secretary of Commerce to prevent any interruption in steel production. It made no difference whether the stoppage was caused by a union-management dispute over terms and conditions of employment, a union-Government dispute over wage stabilization or a management-Government dispute over price stabilization. The President's action has thus far been effective, not in settling the dispute, but in saving the various legislative programs at stake from destruction until Congress could act in the matter.


The diversity of views expressed in the six opinions of the majority, the lack of reference to authoritative precedent, the repeated reliance upon prior dissenting opinions, the complete disregard of the uncontroverted facts showing the gravity of the emergency and the temporary nature of the taking all serve to demonstrate how far afield one must go to affirm the order of the District Court.

The broad executive power granted by Article II to an officer on duty 365 days a year cannot, it is said, be invoked to avert disaster. Instead, the President must confine himself to sending a message to Congress recommending action. Under this messenger-boy concept of


VINSON, C. J., dissenting.

the Office, the President cannot even act to preserve legislative programs from destruction so that Congress will have something left to act upon. There is no judicial finding that the executive action was unwarranted because there was in fact no basis for the President's finding of the existence of an emergency 5 for, under this view, the gravity of the emergency and the immediacy of the threatened disaster are considered irrelevant as a matter of law.


Seizure of plaintiffs' property is not a pleasant undertaking. Similarly unpleasant to a free country are the draft which disrupts the home and military procurement which causes economic dislocation and compels adoption. of price controls, wage stabilization and allocation of materials. The President informed Congress that even a temporary Government operation of plaintiffs' properties was "thoroughly distasteful" to him, but was necessary to prevent immediate paralysis of the mobilization program. Presidents have been in the past, and any man worthy of the Office should be in the future, free to take at least interim action necessary to execute legislative programs essential to survival of the Nation. A sturdy judiciary should not be swayed by the unpleasantness or unpopularity of necessary executive action, but must independently determine for itself whether the President was acting, as required by the Constitution, to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."

As the District Judge stated, this is no time for "timorous" judicial action. But neither is this a time for timorous executive action. Faced with the duty of executing the defense programs which Congress had enacted and the disastrous effects that any stoppage in steel production would have on those programs, the President acted to preserve those programs by seizing the steel mills.

95 Compare Sterling v. Constantin, 287 U. S. 378, 399-401 (1932).

994084 0-52-49

VINSON, C. J., dissenting.

343 U.S.

Wheat., 316, 424), and it is rational to assume that its active forces will be found equal in most things to the emergencies that confront it. While perfect flexibility is not to be expected in a Government of divided powers, and while division of power is one of the principal features of the Constitution, it is the plain duty of those who are called upon to draw the dividing lines to ascertain the essential, recognize the practical, and avoid a slavish formalism which can only serve to ossify the Government and reduce its efficiency without any compensating good. The function of making laws is peculiar to Congress, and the Executive can not exercise that function to any degree. But this is not to say that all of the subjects concerning which laws might be made are perforce removed from the possibility of Executive influence. The Executive may act upon things and upon men in many relations which have not, though they might have, been actually regulated by Congress. In other words, just as there are fields which are peculiar to Congress and fields which are peculiar to the Executive, so there are fields which are common to both, in the sense that the Executive may move within them until they shall have been occupied by legislative action. These are not the fields of legislative prerogative, but fields within which the lawmaking power may enter and dominate whenever it chooses. This situation results from the fact that the President is the active agent, not of Congress, but of the Nation. As such he performs the duties which the Constitution lays upon him immediately, and as such, also, he executes the laws and regulations adopted by Congress. He is the agent of the people of the United States, deriving all his powers from them and responsible directly to them. In no

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