Wednesday, January 11, 2012

United States v. Curtiss-Wright Corp. case brief

United States v. Curtiss-Wright Corp., 299 U.S. 304 (1936).

  • Congress enacted a joint resolution delegating to the President the power to prohibit the sale of arms from the US to Bolivia
  • The Constitutional issue in this case was whether there had been an unconstitutional delegation of authority by Congress to the President
  • The opinion begins by assuming that the delegation of authority would have been unconstitutional had the matter been about internal affairs
  • However, because it is about external affairs, it may be ok
  • Why is it significant that the matter is about external affairs?
    • The Constitution gives the federal government certain legislative powers and leaves the rest to the states
    • The powers pertaining to foreign affairs go to the federal government (president and congress); the states could never have these powers because the power to conduct foreign affairs passed directly to the federal government from the Crown; the colonies never possessed the power to conduct foreign affairs severally
    • Additionally, the opinion says that the President is the sole organ of the nation in external relations and its sole representative with foreign nations
  • Was there an unconstitutional delegation of power?
    • NO – because the president has the power to conduct foreign affairs, he has the powers relating to the creation of laws that deal with foreign affairs, regardless of whether Congress gives him their blessing; thus the Congressional authorization was just icing on the cake.

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