The Supreme Court Sees the Industrial Facts of Life (1936-1937)
This is the story of the case that revolutionized labor relations in the United States and marked the turning point in our governmental policy toward industrial relations. With the Supreme Court's blessing, positive rights for labor unions were established.
The Constitution of the United States does not specifically provide that Congress has power to regulate such a vital factor in the economic life of the country as the relations between employers and employees. Possibly the framers of the Constitution at the time could not visualize the potential development of our industrial system and the role that industrial relations would play in it and their effect on the community as a whole; or possibly the framers did not visualize that our courts, in their power to interpret the law, would curb the power of Congress to pass such legislation, or possibly they were afraid to entrust the federal government with such power. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that the Constitution failed expressly to give power to Congress to regulate labor relations. Each state supposedly had such power, but not the federal government. On more than one occasion the Supreme Court held that the process of manufacturing was an intrastate process and hence regulation of the employer-employee relationship, if at all permitted, was within state and not federal power.