Law and Politics: Occasional Papers of Felix Frankfurter, 1913-1938

By Felix Frankfurter; Archibald MacLeish et al. | Go to book overview

The Packers v. the Government

This selection appeared as an unsigned editorial in the New Republicfor May 15, 1932.

RECALCITRANCY to law has been a dominant characteristic of the packers for more than a generation. Efforts to confine their greed and curb their aggressions began in Roosevelt's administration, and the latest chapter in the long story has just been written by Mr. Justice Cardozo on behalf of the majority of the Supreme Court. Investigations by congressional committees, reports of the Commissioner of Corporations and of the Federal Trade Commission, presidential messages, enforcement of old laws and the enactment of new ones, administrative control, prosecutions, court decrees, decisions by the lower courts and half a dozen decisions by the Supreme Court--all the resources open to government have at one time or another been employed in the thirty years' war of the United States against the packers. Monopoly for private profit in meat and other foods has been the stake for which the packers fought.

Early in his first administration, Roosevelt moved against the beef trust. Dissolution of the Standard Oil, the tobacco and the beef trusts was the chief objective of Roosevelt's trust-busting. All three had attained their "evil eminence" by the crude and ruthless methods of the pioneer days of big business. The refinements of pyramiding and affiliates were not yet in vogue. Suppression of competition both in the purchase of livestock and in the sale of dressed meat, control of stockyards and terminal railroads, the indispensable instrumentalities for such a combination, unduly favorable traffic arrangements with carriers--by such methods was a monopolistic position in the industry largely

-271-

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