Lesson 2 – The President’s National Security Powers

Create an outline that summarizes each of the Supreme Court justices’ opinions regarding the following four theories of presidential authority as expressed in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer: Commander in Chief, Aggregate (including Take Care and Vestiture Clause theories), Emergency, and Customary. For each theory of authority, answer whether: 1) the authority exists generally (including the source of the authority) and 2) whether the authority justified President Truman’s actions in this case. For both questions, summarize why the justice thought they way they did (i.e., summarize the justice’s analysis). Explanations don’t need to be super long, but avoid simple "yes" or "no" answers to the questions. Your summary may include a paraphrase, a direct quote, or some combination thereof. At the end of your answer to each question, please cite the page number(s) of the pdf of the Youngstown case provided here in Webcourses where the justice addressed the issue. (Cite the pdf page number, not the official reporter’s page #. See example below.) Do not cite the textbook for your answers — cite the case only.

Note: not every justice talks about every theory of authority in their Youngstown opinion. If that’s the case, just state that without answering the questions.  You may choose the formatting style of your preference for your outline (in the example below I’ve used bullets, but you are welcome to use traditional outline numbers and letters or something similar).

Here, I’ve provided an example of what I’m looking for, using Justice Clark’s short concurring opinion. You should provide the outline for the remaining justices’ opinions: 1) Black; 2) Frankfurter; 3) Douglas; 4) Jackson; 5) Burton; and 6) the dissenters Vinson/Reed/Minton.



Justice Clark

  • Commander in Chief Authority
    • Justice Clark does not address this theory
  • Aggregate Authority
    • Justice Clark does not address this theory
  • Emergency Authority
    • Authority Exist Generally?
      • Yes – “the Constitution does grant to the President extensive authority in times of grave and imperative national emergency. In fact, to my thinking, such a grant may well be necessary to the very existence of the Constitution itself. As Lincoln aptly said, “(is) it possible to lose the nation and yet preserve the Constitution?’ (pp. 16-17)
      • Source – Justice Clark cites the Constitution generally, not a specific provision (p. 17)
    • Authority Support President Truman’s Actions?
      • No – Congress had prescribed the methods to be used by the President to meet the emergency at hand (Defense Production Action, Labor Management Relations Act, Selective Service Act), so President had to follow those authorities (pp. 17-19)
  • Customary Authority
    • Justice Clark does not address this theory


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