ACLU History: President Truman's Power Grabs

September 1, 2010
The Korean War saw further attempts to diminish liberties in the name of national security – this time, in President Truman's invocation of a 'wartime emergency' in his attempted government takeover of the steel industry. Truman claimed that the industry's failure to settle a labor dispute would result in a strike that would cripple U.S. efforts to win the Korean War. The ACLU protested the seizure as an unconstitutional power grab, and the Supreme Court agreed in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, striking down the seizure order on the grounds that it was not authorized by Congress. Later that same year Truman claimed he had the authority to seize American newspapers and radio stations in the event of a national emergency, but the ACLU spoke out vociferously against this claim and Truman quickly backed down.


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