On the heels of World War II, and at the beginning of the Korean War, it now emerges that J. Edgar Hoover, the long-time serving director of the FBI, wanted President Truman to suspend habeas corpurs and carry out the mass arrest of 12,000 (mostly) Americans suspected of disloyalty. This approach, reminiscent of Nazi Germany's (and for that matter any brutal dictatorship's) approach to dealing with so-called disloyal elements, may seem far-fetched today; but this mentality seems to be quite pervasive at the time. After all, Truman had very little respect for democracy or for that matter the rule of law. He did declare an emergency in 1950, though he never used the powers.
President Truman did attempt to nationalize the steel mills, however, a move not very different from what Hugo Chavez just recently made in Venezuala and for which many Americans condemned him. Luckily for America, the United States Supreme Court declared Truman's socialist proclivities unconstitutional in the now famous case of Youngstown v. Sawyer. The case contains Justice Jackson's concurrence, which seems to have become the accepted state of the law on the matter.
What is interesting about the case is the speed in which it was decided. The order for nationalization was issued on April 9, 1952. The steel companies brought the case to the Federal District (trial) court, which issued an injunction on April 30, 1952. The D.C. Circuit (Appeal Court) stayed the injunction the same day. Bypassing the traditon of letting the Circuit court deciding the matter first, the Supreme Court took the case by granting certiori on May 3, 1952. Oral arguments were presented on May 12-13, and the opinion of the court was issued on June 2, 1952. This is one of the fastest cases from start to finish ever decided. This is a great lesson for lawyers in record efficiency and speed. Bear in mind there were no computers for searches or typing; yet the case was argued and briefed from start to finish in just over a month.
The case was argued for the steel companies by the legendary John W. Davis. one of the greatest appellate advocates America ever produced. When he argued the case, he so mesmerized the court, as he normally did, that he was only interrupted for a question once! (more details on the case here) His opponent, the Solicitor General, did not fare as well. The Court, contrary to most observor's expectations, ruled 6-3 that the President lacked the authority, a decision that so riled Truman, that he complained bitterly about the decision for years to come.
John W. Davis, was the legendary lawyer who argued 140 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, probably the most by any modern day lawyer (Modern day lawyers are like modern day pitchers in that they can't expect to accumulate too many Sup. Ct. arguments just like pitchers can't expect too many wins with the 5 man rotation. So early lawyers like Daniel Webster who supposdely argued 400 cases is like Cy Young with his 511 wins; while Davis is more like the 300 club). He ran for president in 1920 losing to Coolidge, and founded the prestiogous elite firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell. Despite arguing many cases during his term as Solicitor General against Souther laws that kept blacks from voting, his last appearnce at the Supreme Court was not his finest. He argued the case for "seperate but equal" in Brown v. Bd. of Educ., which by all accounts he would have won had the CJ Fred Vinson not died. His replacement Earl Warren ordered a rehearing and the rest is history.
John W. Davis' opponent in Brown was none other the equally legendary trial lawyer and appellate advocate Thurgood Marshall. Marshall, also a United States Solicitor General, argued 32 cases in the Supreme Court winning 29 of them. He also served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, as well as the United States Supreme Court. He replaced Justice Tom C. Clark (uncle of former Attorney General Ramsey Clark). What is interesting is that if you read Brown v. Bd. of Educ., you will notice that in the now controversial footnote 11:
K. B. Clark, Effect of Prejudice and Discrimination on Personality Development (Midcentury White House Conference on Children and Youth, 1950); Witmer and Kotinsky, Personality in the Making (1952), c. VI; Deutscher and Chein, The Psychological Effects of Enforced Segregation: A Survey of Social Science Opinion, 26 J. Psychol. 259 (1948); Chein, What are the Psychological Effects of Segregation Under Conditions of Equal Facilities?, 3 Int. J. Opinion and Attitude Res. 229 (1949); Brameld, Educational Costs, in Discrimination and National Welfare (MacIver, ed., (1949), 44-48; Frazier, The Negro in the United States (1949), 674-681. And see generally Myrdal, An American Dilemma (1944).
all the authorities cited follow the citation style of only having the author's last name, except the first reference, which has the author's first two initials. This supposedly was done, rumor has it, to avoid the appearance that Justice Clark was the author of that study.
One final note: Marshall argued 19 cases for the United States at the Supreme Court (winning 14 of them) including (a companion case to) Miranda v. Arizona, where he argued against the requirement of giving Miranda warnings. You can hear Marshall arguning here at minute 23.35.