Judicial Review of Administrative Action

July 9, 1938

Report Outline
Controversy Aroused by Stockyards Decision
Extent of Judicial Review of Administrative Action
Recent Court Decisions on Administrative Law

Controversy Aroused by Stockyards Decision

Attacking Judicial interference with operations of administrative agencies of the federal government, Secretary of Agriculture Wallace, in a series of public statements during late April and May, prophesied “another battle” between the Roosevelt administration and the courts, with the administration attempting to prevent the courts from invading the administrative field and “taking over the rate-making and regulatory functions of administrative agencies.”

Secretary Wallace's attack was occasioned by a decision of the Supreme Court on April 25, in the case of Morgan v. United States, invalidating an order issued by the Secretary in June 1933, fixing maximum rates to be charged by commission agents marketing livestock for farmers at the Kansas City stockyards. The order, which had been the subject of continuous litigation since 1933 and which had once before been brought before the Supreme Court, was struck down on the ground that the “full hearing” required by the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 had not been accorded to the commission agents prior to the establishment of rates. A petition for rehearing filed by Solicitor General Jackson was denied by the Court on May 31, and the case was remanded for the second time to the federal district court for further proceedings.

Wallace's Attack on Supreme Court's Ruling in Morgan Case

Secretary Wallace, in his initial statement regarding the Morgan case—a radio address delivered on April 28—pointed out that the Department of Agriculture had instituted rate proceedings in the Kansas City stockyards in 1930 and that the rates fixed three years later had been before the courts for five years. “Prom a practical point of view the thing which appalls the average man about this entire question,” he said, “is the slowness with which justice can be obtained when questions of economic balance and adjustment are involved.”

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Separation of Powers
Supreme Court History and Decisions