Bituminous Coal Act 50 Stat. 72 (1937)

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BITUMINOUS COAL ACT 50 Stat. 72 (1937)

After carter v. carter coal company (1936), Congress restored regulation of bituminous coal in interstate commerce. The new act, designed to control the interstate sale and distribution of soft coal and to protect interstate commerce, levied a nineteen and one-half percent tax on all producers but remitted payment to those who accepted the new code. Price-fixing provisions constituted the crux of the act; Congress did not reenact any labor provisions, although it encouraged free collective bargaining.

The act established a National Bituminous Coal Commission to supervise an elaborate procedure for setting minimum prices. Unfair competition or sales below established prices violated the code. The act provided extensive procedural due process and several means of enforcement, including cease-and-desist orders and private suits carrying treble damage awards for injured competitors.

An 8–1 Supreme Court sustained the act in Sunshine Anthracite Coal Company v. Adkins (1940). Conceding the tax was "a sanction to enforce the regulatory provisions of the Act," the majority held that Congress might nevertheless "impose penalties in aid of the exercise of any of its enumerated powers." The Court thus upheld the act under the commerce clause, declaring that the method of regulation was for legislative determination.

David Gordon
(1986)