Law School Case Brief
Yakus v. United States - 321 U.S. 414, 64 S. Ct. 660 (1944)
The Price Control Administrator, as the author of regulations, is given wide discretion as to the time and conditions of their issue and continued effect. Section 2(a) of the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942, 50 U.S.C.S. app. § 901 et seq., as amended by the Inflation Control Act of October 2, 1942, 50 U.S.C.S. app. § 961 et seq., authorizes him to issue such regulations as will effectuate the purposes of the act, whenever, in his judgment, such action is necessary. Section 201(d) of the Act authorizes him from time to time to issue regulations when necessary and proper to effectuate the purposes of the Act. The administrator is authorized by § 203(a) of the Act to grant or deny a protest in whole or in part, and § 204(a) authorizes him to modify or rescind a regulation at any time. Moreover § 2(a) of the Act further authorizes the issue, in the administrator's judgment, of temporary regulations, effective for 60 days, establishing as a maximum the price prevailing with respect to any commodity within five days prior to the date of issuance of such temporary regulations.
In separate trials, petitioner Yakus and another defendant were tried and convicted by the United States District Court for Massachusetts upon several counts of indictments charging violation of §§ 4 (a) and 205 (b) of the Emergency Price Control Act by the willful sale of wholesale cuts of beef at prices above the maximum prices prescribed by §§ 1364.451-1364.455 of Revised Maximum Price Regulation No. 169 ("Regulation"). On appeal, petitioners asserted that the Regulation did not conform to the standards prescribed by the Act, and that it involved unconstitutional delegation to the Price Administrator of the legislative power of Congress to control prices.
Did the Emergency Price Control Act involve an unconstitutional delegation to the Price Administrator of the legislative power of Congress to control prices?
The Supreme Court of the United States held that the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942, as amended, did not involve an unconstitutional delegation to the Price Administrator of the legislative power of Congress to control commodity prices in time of war. According to the Court, the Act, the declared purpose of which was to prevent wartime inflation, provided for the establishment of an Office of Price Administration under the direction of a Price Administrator appointed by the President of the United States. The Administrator was authorized, after consultation with representative members of the industry so far as practicable, to promulgate regulations fixing prices of commodities which in his judgment were generally fair and equitable and would effectuate the purposes of this Act when, in his judgment, their prices had risen or threatened to rise to an extent or in a manner inconsistent with the purposes of the Act. The Administrator was directed in fixing prices to give due consideration, so far as practicable, to prices prevailing during a designated base period, and to make adjustments for relevant factors of general applicability. Moreover, the Court averred that the essentials of the legislative function were preserved when Congress had specified the basic conditions of fact upon whose existence or occurrence, ascertained from relevant data by a designated administrative agency, it directed that its statutory command shall be effective.
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