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

Randy E. Barnett & Josh Blackman

Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company v. Sawyer (1952) is one of the Supreme Court’s most important decisions concerning the separation of powers between the President, the Congress, and the judiciary. The Supreme Court resolved the Steel Seizure Case, as the case is also known, in less than two months between April and June 1952. To understand this case, we first have to recount the history of the Korean War — one of our most forgotten wars.

From 1950-1953, the United States was engaged in a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula. Congress did not declare war on Korea. Instead, the United Nations Security Council authorized the conflict. The United States became a member of the United Nations after the Senate approved a treaty in 1945. President Harry S. Truman’s administration argued that this treaty gave him the power to prosecute the conflict in Korea even in the absence of a formal declaration of war.

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