Lever Food and Drug Control Act 40 Stat. 276 (1917)

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The administration proposed this legislation to Congress, arguing that "the existence of a state of war " made it "essential to the national security and defense" for the federal government to control the supply and pricing of food and fuel. By subjecting those industries affected with a public interest to federal regulation, Congress effectively delegated control of significant sectors of the economy to the President. Section 4, the heart of the act, outlawed the destruction, waste, hoarding, or price-fixing of commodities. Further sections, in an exceptionally broad delegation of power, authorized the President to regulate the food industry and to seize and operate "any factory, packing house, oil pipe line, mine, or other plant" engaged in commodity production.

inUnited States v. L. Cohen Grocery Company (1921), a unanimous Supreme Court struck down section 4 for failing to set adequate standards for prices. The criminal provisions unconstitutionally delegated "legislative power to courts and juries" and deprived "the citizen of the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him," violating the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. Although the Court struck down particular provisions for vagueness, it did not reach the issue of the government's authority to regulate prices under the war powers, and the Lever Act would later serve as a model for other regulatory legislation

David Gordon

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Lever Food and Drug Control Act 40 Stat. 276 (1917)

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