The Supreme Court declines to halt march to socialism

The highest court in the land slapped Roosevelt and Truman down. But on Chrysler, President Obama got a free pass.


Andrew Leonard
June 10, 2009 6:13PM (UTC)

In 1935, in the case of Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that President Franklin Roosevelt's National Industrial Relations Act, a cornerstone of the New Deal, was unconstitutional.

The Court held:

Extraordinary conditions, such as an economic crisis, may call for extraordinary remedies, but they cannot create or enlarge constitutional power.

In 1952, in the case of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, the Supreme Court ruled that President Harry Truman's attempt to avert a nationwide steelworker strike during the Korean War by ordering the Secretary of Commerce to seize steel mills was unconstitutional.

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The Court held:

Seizure and governmental operation of these going businesses were bound to result in many present and future damages of such nature as to be difficult, if not incapable, of measurement.

In 2009, in the case of Indiana State Police Pension Trust et al v. Chrysler LLC et al., the Supreme Court declined to grant a stay postponing the White House's orchestrated bankruptcy restructuring of Chrysler. So the deal moves forward.

Is it silly to compare the decision not to grant a stay at the behest of some investors who were upset that their decision to speculate in the distressed debt of a failing automaker didn't pay off as they would have liked to the epochal court rulings that limited the authority of Roosevelt and Truman? Sure seems so, when phrased like that, doesn't it?

But consider this: Pundits and politicians on the right are yammering with increasing intensity that Obama is leading the country down the path of "socialism." If there was even the remotest scrap of truth to this ridiculous assertion, wouldn't you think that a conservative-dominated Supreme Court would seize any legitimate opportunity to weigh in?

But no, the Court declined. Socialism, this isn't.

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Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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