An introduction to Constitutional Law 100 Supreme Court cases everyone should know

Randy E. Barnett & Josh Blackman

In 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President. Roosevelt’s legislative agenda pushed the boundaries of how much local conduct Congress could regulate. One of the most significant of these laws was the National Industrial Recovery Act (NRA). Under the NRA, private businesses and unions could adopt “Codes of Fair Competition” that would become legally enforceable once approved by the President.

President Roosevelt adopted the Live Poultry Code for New York City. The code regulated labor conditions in slaughterhouses and specified how chickens could be slaughtered. The Schechter Brothers operated a Kosher slaughterhouse in Brooklyn. They did not ship their chickens out of state. The federal government prosecuted them for violating the code.

The Court unanimously concluded that Congress lacked the power to enact the NRA.

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