In 1943, in an attempt to end a strike of the United Mine Workers which threatened the national war effort, the Government, acting under an executive order directing the Secretary of the Interior to take possession of the mines where necessary, seized most of the nation's coal mines. Although mine officials were required to agree to conduct operations as agents of the Government, to keep separate books for the period of government operation, to fly the American Flag over the mines, and to post notices that the mines were "United States Property," they were instructed to carry on the mining business as before. Title to assets, profits or losses, and substantial control of the ordinary business functions remained in the individual companies. The business was carried on without hindrance by the Government except in one respect: on a merely advisory recommendation by the War Labor Board, the Secretary of the Interior ordered modification of the wage agreement under which the mines had been operating before the strike, by authorizing an increased vacation payment and the refund of certain occupational charges. Plaintiff coal company complied with the order, but brought an action in the Court of Claims to recover all operating losses incurred during the period of government operation. The Court of Claims allowed recovery only for "losses" incurred through the wage increase; on appeal to the Supreme Court by the Government, held, affirmed. Such government intervention constitutes a "taking" within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment, and "just compensation" for the taking is the amount of the wage increase granted during the period of government operation. Justice Black delivered the judgment of the Court and an opinion in which Justices Frankfurter, Douglas, and Jackson concurred. Justice Reed wrote a concurring opinion; and Justice Burton, joined by Chief Justice Vinson and Justices Clark and Minton, dissented. United States v. Pewee Coal Co., 341 U.S. 114, 71 S.Ct. 670 (1951).
John F. Spindler,
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW-EMINENT DOMAIN-GOVERNMENT SEIZURE OF BUSINESS PROPERTY TO AVERT STRIKE AS A "TAKING" UNDER FIFTH AMENDMENT-AMOUNT OF WAGE INCREASE AS MEASURE OF "JUST COMPENSATION",
Mich. L. Rev.
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