• Last updated on November 11, 2022

In approving the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942, the Supreme Court upheld congressional power to limit judicial review in lower federal courts and to authorize an administrative agency to use wide latitude in fixing maximum prices and rents.

Soon after the United States entered World War II in 1941, Congress established the Office of Price Administration to set “fair and equitable” price controls for limiting inflation. Although violators of the regulations were tried in federal district courts, the statute specified that these courts could not rule on the constitutionality of the controls. Decisions of the courts were then reviewed by a special tribunal before going to the Supreme Court. Essentially the statute was designed to defer judicial review until late in the war effort. When Albert Yakus, a wholesaler of meats, was criminally punished under the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942Emergency Price Control Act of 1942, he challenged its constitutionality.Powers, delegation of;Yakus v. United States[Yakus v. United States]Separation of powers;Yakus v. United States[Yakus v. United States]

Speaking for a 6-3 majority, Chief Justice Harlan Fiske StoneStone, Harlan Fiske;Yakus v. United States[Yakus v. United States] upheld Yakus’s conviction. Although the Court in 1935 had imposed substantial limitations on the delegation of legislative powers, Stone found that the 1942 delegation was acceptable because Congress had provided standards to guide the agency’s work. Likewise, Stone wrote that the limitations on the courts were acceptable because there was sufficient opportunity for judicial review. In dissent, Justice Wiley B. Rutledge, Jr.,Rutledge, Wiley B., Jr.;Yakus v. United States[Yakus v. United States] wrote that although Congress might exclude the courts from the administrative process, if the courts were involved, they must be able to consider the constitutionality of their decisions. Rutledge’s dissent is widely respected. The Court appeared to affirm the delegation portion of Yakus in Mistretta v. United States[case]Mistretta v. United States[Mistretta v. United States] (1989).

Democracy

Judicial review

McCardle, Ex parte

Mistretta v. United States

Separation of powers

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