At times during our nation’s history, the executive branch of the United States government has tested the limits of its power by taking actions that are not explicitly granted to the president or executive branch. For example, in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (the “Steel Seizure Case”) (1952), the Supreme Court addressed the issue of executive power during emergencies in the absence of express statutory or Constitutional authority. The Supreme Court decision spans more than 140 pages, including Justice Hugo Black’s opinion for the majority, holding that President Harry S. Truman had exceeded the limits of the president’s power, as well as concurring opinions from each of the five members of the Court agreeing with Black’s conclusions, and a long dissent by the Chief Justice. The decision and bases for the Steel Seizure Case are hard to discern from the six opinions written to support the majority. Justice Robert Jackson’s concurrence is often cited to assess the limits of executive power, as it sets forth a categorization that is the most comprehensible of the six opinions.
The election of 1956 saw Adlai Stevenson again tasked with the unenviable duty of an electoral contest against Dwight D. Eisenhower, which, it will come as no surprise, did not end in Stevenson’s favor. Eisenhower is well known to students of history and government, Stevenson, a one-term governor of Illinois, barely garners a mention in most books on the Cold War. Despite his loss, Stevenson was an important bridge between the New Deal policies of the Roosevelt administration and the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson. He articulated a progressive platform that would guide the Democratic Party for the coming decades in regards to domestic policy. Electoral defeat is quite common for ideologues and intellectuals on both ends of the ideological spectrum, but part and parcel with his intellectual bend came a truly unique rhetoric for the role of government in society.
Communism and Civil Liberties: The Election of 1952
The election of 1952 brought about the first GOP presidential victory in more than 20 years. It came about at a time while many in America were weary from World War II, and they were very apprehensive about the potential for subversion by the Soviet Union and its radical Marxist ideology.