NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation

National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation

National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation, 301 U.S. 1 (1937), was a United States Supreme Court case that declared that the National Labor Relations Act (commonly known as the Wagner Act) was constitutional. It effectively spelled the end to the court's striking down of New Deal economic legislation, and greatly increased Congress's power under the Commerce Clause.


Jones & Laughlin was the nation's fourth largest steel producer and the charges brought against it were that the company discriminated against workers who wanted to join a labor union. The company had fired ten employees at its plant in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania after they moved to unionize. The NLRB ruled against the company and ordered the workers be rehired and given backpay, but Jones & Laughlin refused to comply on the grounds that they believed the act was unconstitutional. Citing Supreme Court precedent, lower courts agreed.

Opinion of the Court

Chief Justice Hughes wrote the majority opinion in the case, which reversed the lower court's ruling in a 5-4 decision. Per Justice Hughes "[Although] activities may be intrastate in character when separately considered, if they have such a close and substantial relation to interstate commerce that their control is essential or appropriate to protect that commerce from burdens and obstructions, congress cannot be denied the power to exercise that control."


Justice McReynolds questioned Congress's enhanced power under the commerce clause. Although he did not dispute Congress's regulation of interstate commerce, he stated that the Congress's interference should be in cases where a violation is "direct and material". As an example McReynolds stated that taxation on property may indirectly but seriously affect the cost of transportation. In conclusion, he stated that Congress had transcended the power granted to them in the Constitution.

See also

Further reading

  • Tushnet, Mark (2008). I dissent: Great Opposing Opinions in Landmark Supreme Court Cases. Boston: Beacon Press.

External links

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