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VINSON, C. J., dissenting.


Focusing now on the situation confronting the President on the night of April 8, 1952, we cannot but conclude that the President was performing his duty under the Constitution to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed"—a duty described by President Benjamin Harrison as "the central idea of the office." 83

The President reported to Congress the morning after the seizure that he acted because a work stoppage in steel production would immediately imperil the safety of the Nation by preventing execution of the legislative programs for procurement of military equipment. And, while a shutdown could be averted by granting the price concessions requested by plaintiffs, granting such concessions would disrupt the price stabilization program also enacted by Congress. Rather than fail to execute either legislative program, the President acted to execute both.

Much of the argument in this case has been directed at straw men. We do not now have before us the case of a President acting solely on the basis of his own notions of the public welfare. Nor is there any question of unlimited executive power in this case. The President himself closed the door to any such claim when he sent his Message to Congress stating his purpose to abide by any action of Congress, whether approving or disapproving his seizure action. Here, the President immediately made sure that Congress was fully informed of the temporary action he had taken only to preserve the legislative programs from destruction until Congress could act.

The absence of a specific statute authorizing seizure of the steel mills as a mode of executing the laws-both the military procurement program and the anti-inflation. program-has not until today been thought to prevent

83 Harrison, This Country of Ours (1897), 98.

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the President from executing the laws. Unlike an administrative commission confined to the enforcement of the statute under which it was created, or the head of a department when administering a particular statute, the President is a constitutional officer charged with taking care that a "mass of legislation" be executed. Flexibility as to mode of execution to meet critical situations is a matter of practical necessity. This practical construction of the "Take Care" clause, advocated by John Marshall, was adopted by this Court in In re Neagle, In re Debs and other cases cited supra. See also Ex parte Quirin, 317 U. S. 1, 26 (1942). Although more restrictive views of executive power, advocated in dissenting opinions of Justices Holmes, McReynolds and Brandeis, were emphatically rejected by this Court in Myers v. United States, supra, members of today's majority treat these dissenting views as authoritative.

There is no statute prohibiting seizure as a method of enforcing legislative programs. Congress has in no wise indicated that its legislation is not to be executed by the taking of private property (subject of course to the payment of just compensation) if its legislation cannot otherwise be executed. Indeed, the Universal Military Training and Service Act authorizes the seizure of any plant that fails to fill a Government contract or the properties of any steel producer that fails to allocate steel as directed for defense production.85 And the Defense Production Act authorizes the President to requisition equipment and condemn real property needed without delay in the defense effort.s Where Congress authorizes seizure in instances not necessarily crucial to the defense



84 62 Stat. 604, 626 (1948), 50 U. S. C. App. (Supp. IV) § 468 (c). 85 62 Stat. 604, 627 (1948), 50 U. S. C. App. (Supp. IV) § 468 (h) (1).

86 Tit. II, 64 Stat. 798, 799 (1950), as amended, 65 Stat. 138 (1951).


VINSON, C. J., dissenting.

program, it can hardly be said to have disclosed an intention to prohibit seizures where essential to the execution of that legislative program.

Whatever the extent of Presidential power on more tranquil occasions, and whatever the right of the President to execute legislative programs as he sees fit without reporting the mode of execution to Congress, the single Presidential purpose disclosed on this record is to faithfully execute the laws by acting in an emergency to maintain the status quo, thereby preventing collapse. of the legislative programs until Congress could act. The President's action served the same purposes as a judicial stay entered to maintain the status quo in order to preserve the jurisdiction of a court. In his Message to Congress immediately following the seizure, the President explained the necessity of his action in executing the military procurement and anti-inflation legislative programs and expressed his desire to cooperate with any legislative proposals approving, regulating or rejecting the seizure of the steel mills. Consequently, there is no evidence whatever of any Presidential purpose to defy Congress or act in any way inconsistent with the legislative will.

In United States v. Midwest Oil Co., supra, this Court approved executive action where, as here, the President acted to preserve an important matter until Congress could act even though his action in that case was contrary to an express statute. In this case, there is no statute prohibiting the action taken by the President in a matter not merely important but threatening the very safety of the Nation. Executive inaction in such a situation, courting national disaster, is foreign to the concept of energy and initiative in the Executive as created by the Founding Fathers. The Constitution was itself "adopted in a period of grave emergency. . . . While emergency does not create power, emergency may furnish

VINSON, C. J., dissenting.

99 87

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the occasion for the exercise of power.' The Framers knew, as we should know in these times of peril, that there is real danger in Executive weakness. There is no cause to fear Executive tyranny so long as the laws of Congress are being faithfully executed. Certainly there is no basis for fear of dictatorship when the Executive acts, as he did in this case, only to save the situation until Congress could act.


Plaintiffs place their primary emphasis on the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, hereinafter referred to as the Taft-Hartley Act, but do not contend that that Act contains any provision prohibiting seizure.


Upon receiving that

Under the Taft-Hartley Act, as under the Wagner Act, collective bargaining and the right to strike are at the heart of our national labor policy. Taft-Hartley preserves the right to strike in any emergency, however serious, subject only to an 80-day delay in cases of strikes imperiling the national health and safety. In such a case, the President may appoint a board of inquiry to report the facts of the labor dispute. report, the President may direct the Attorney General to petition a District Court to enjoin the strike. If the injunction is granted, it may continue in effect for no more than 80 days, during which time the board of inquiry makes further report and efforts are made to settle the dispute. When the injunction is dissolved, the President is directed to submit a report to Congress together with his recommendations.89

Enacted after World War II, Taft-Hartley restricts the right to strike against private employers only to a lim

87 Home Building & Loan Assn. v. Blaisdell, 290 U. S. 398, 425–426 (1934).

88 See Bus Employees v. Wisconsin Board, 340 U. S. 383 (1951). 89 §§ 206-210, Labor Management Relations Act of 1947. 29 U. S. C. (Supp. IV) §§ 176-180.


VINSON, C. J., dissenting.

ited extent and for the sole purpose of affording an additional period of time within which to settle the dispute. Taft-Hartley in no way curbs strikes before an injunction can be obtained and after an 80-day injunction is dissolved.

Plaintiffs admit that the emergency procedures of TaftHartley are not mandatory. Nevertheless, plaintiffs apparently argue that, since Congress did provide the 80day injunction method for dealing with emergency strikes, the President cannot claim that an emergency exists until the procedures of Taft-Hartley have been exhausted. This argument was not the basis of the District Court's opinion and, whatever merit the argument might have had following the enactment of Taft-Hartley, it loses all force when viewed in light of the statutory pattern confronting the President in this case.

In Title V of the Defense Production Act of 1950,90 Congress stated:

"It is the intent of Congress, in order to provide for effective price and wage stabilization pursuant to title IV of this Act and to maintain uninterrupted production, that there be effective procedures for the settlement of labor disputes affecting national defense." (§ 501.)

Title V authorized the President to initiate labor-management conferences and to take action appropriate to carrying out the recommendations of such conferences and the provisions of Title V. (§ 502.) Due regard is to be given to collective bargaining practice and stabilization policies and no action taken is to be inconsistent with Taft-Hartley and other laws. (§ 503.) The purpose of these provisions was to authorize the President "to establish a board, commission or other agency, sim

90 64 Stat. 812, 65 Stat. 132 (1950).

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