A presidential emergency that didn't end well
Richard pod is sponsored by T. Rowe price. Are you looking to learn a thing or two about getting your finances in order saving and investing? Check out the confident wallet a personal finance podcast series by T. Rowe price and the Washington Post brain studio find it wherever you get your podcasts. Hey history lovers. A Mike Rosen walled with retro pod. A show about the past rediscovered. It had been a bad few weeks for the man in the Oval Office. Congress wouldn't cooperate with him. He couldn't bend the government to his very strong real backed into a corner and seemed to have only one option left declare a national emergency. So in came the TV cameras and the president took his case directly to the American people through their televisions. My fellow Americans who said tonight our country faces a grave danger. These are not normal times. These are times of crisis. It was April eighth. Nineteen fifty to the president was Harry s Truman. So what was the national crisis? Well, the Korean conflict was well underway and back home. There was a big time dispute between steel companies and their workers that threatened to deny US troops the weapons and tanks. They needed to fight over in Korea. So on TV that night Truman explained why he had just directed. His secretary of commerce to seize control of the country steel mills a truly extraordinary action. I would not he said be faithful to my responsibilities as president. If I did not use every effort to keep this from happening. Truman's actions, sixty seven years ago sparked a fiery constitutional dispute that rocketed all the way to the supreme court. And now as President Trump considered claiming similar emergency powers to build his long promised border wall scholars are looking back at Truman's gamut and the legal precedent. It created suddenly a forgotten supreme court case Youngstown sheet and tube company versus Sawyer is in vogue again. White Truman Trump used a recent White House address to make the case that the United States was facing a grave problem in this case what he described as a security crisis at its southern border. Trump has threatened to declare a national emergency, but Truman's conflict it was much different. In one thousand nine hundred fifty worth Korea had invaded South Korea and Truman sent troops for what he hoped would be short deployment to defend a US ally. But the Chinese joined the north in the conflict raged on at home Truman struggle to keep inflation in check with a new law that allowed him wartime wage and price controls over strategic industries like steel but union workers were hankering for arrays and thus the conflict with the. Of steel held in check the companies refused to meet workers demands for a pay increase. And by the end of nineteen fifty one a strike was looming. Truman had a weapon to head off the strike, the nineteen forty seven Taft Hartley act gave the president of thority through court order to suspend a strike for eighty days in cases, where national security was at risk. But Truman didn't want to go that route and he tried desperately to avoid using emergency powers ordering both sides to work out a deal in front of a special wage board that board recommended a raise for the workers, the steel company said, okay, but only if we can raise prices. Nope. Truman said, and then he went on TV to announce his intent to take over their mills whether American troops fishing, the anime on the of battle. I'm not living up to my oath of office. If I failed to do whatever is required to provide them with weapons and and munition they need for their survival. Therefore, I'm directing the secretary of commerce to take possession of the steel mills. The dispute wound through the Justice system all the way to the supreme court in the six three ruling the court said the president had gone way beyond his powers Truman lost. Constitutional. Scholars say the case is a clear guide to what powers the president has under the constitution. But that hasn't stopped Truman successors from taking similar actions often with success during a postal strike in nineteen seventy president Richard m Nixon declared a national -mergency and deployed the national guard to deliver the mail. Jimmy Carter used emergency sanctions against Iran during the hostage crisis that began in one thousand nine hundred seventy nine there have been dozens of other instances with many renewed by the White House year after year. In fact, in two thousand seventeen President Trump renewed Carter state of emergency declaration against Iran saying in a press release that the national emergency declared on November fourteenth nineteen Seventy-nine must continue. I'm Mike Rosen walled. Thanks for listening. This episode was adapted from a story written by Steve Hendrix for the Washington Post and for more forgotten stories from history. Visit Washington Post dot com slash retro pod. The Washington Post has a new daily podcast post reports hosted by me Martine powers every weekday afternoon. We're bringing you stories about the state of the country the world, and how we come to know the things we know get it now at Washington Post dot com slash post reports.