MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.
The case is here on a direct appeal, Act of August 24, 1937, 50 Stat. 752, 28 U.S.C. § 349a, from a judgment of the District Court holding unconstitutional Title II of the Housing and Rent Act of 1947. 61 Stat. 193, 196.
The Act became effective on July 1, 1947, and the following day the appellee demanded of its tenants increases of 40% and 60% for rental accommodations in the Cleveland Defense-Rental Area, an admitted violation of the Act and regulations adopted pursuant thereto.
The District Court was of the view that the authority of Congress to regulate rents by virtue of the war power (see Bowles v. Willingham, 321 U.S. 503) ended with the Presidential Proclamation terminating hostilities on December 31, 1946,
We conclude, in the first place, that the war power sustains this legislation. The Court said in Hamilton v. Kentucky Distilleries Co., 251 U.S. 146, 161, that the war power includes the power "to remedy the evils which have arisen from its rise and progress" and continues for the duration of that emergency. Whatever may be the consequences when war is officially terminated,
The constitutional validity of the present legislation follows a fortiori from those cases. The legislative history of the present Act makes abundantly clear that there has not yet been eliminated the deficit in housing which in considerable measure was caused by the heavy demobilization of veterans and by the cessation or reduction in residential construction during the period of hostilities due to the allocation of building materials to military projects.
We recognize the force of the argument that the effects of war under modern conditions may be felt in the economy
The question of the constitutionality of action taken by Congress does not depend on recitals of the power which it undertakes to exercise. Here it is plain from the legislative history that Congress was invoking its war power to cope with a current condition of which the war was a direct and immediate cause.
Under the present Act the Housing Expediter is authorized to remove the rent controls in any defense-rental area if in his judgment the need no longer exists by reason of new construction or satisfaction of demand in other ways.
Objection is made that the Act by its exemption of certain classes of housing accommodations
MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER concurs in this opinion because it decides no more than was decided in Hamilton v. Kentucky Distilleries Co., 251 U.S. 146, and Jacob Ruppert v. Caffey, 251 U.S. 264, and merely applies those decisions to the situation now before the Court.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON, concurring.
I agree with the result in this case, but the arguments that have been addressed to us lead me to utter more explicit misgivings about war powers than the Court has done. The Government asserts no constitutional basis for this legislation other than this vague, undefined and undefinable "war power."
No one will question that this power is the most dangerous one to free government in the whole catalogue of powers. It usually is invoked in haste and excitement when calm legislative consideration of constitutional limitation is difficult. It is executed in a time of patriotic fervor that makes moderation unpopular. And, worst of all, it is interpreted by judges under the influence of the same passions and pressures. Always, as in this case, the Government urges hasty decision to forestall some emergency or serve some purpose and pleads that paralysis will result if its claims to power are denied or their confirmation delayed.
Particularly when the war power is invoked to do things to the liberties of people, or to their property or economy that only indirectly affect conduct of the war and do not
I think we can hardly deny that the war power is as valid a ground for federal rent control now as it has been at any time. We still are technically in a state of war. I would not be willing to hold that war powers may be indefinitely prolonged merely by keeping legally alive a state of war that had in fact ended. I cannot accept the argument that war powers last as long as the effects and consequences of war, for if so they are permanent — as permanent as the war debts. But I find no reason to conclude that we could find fairly that the present state of war is merely technical. We have armies abroad exercising our war power and have made no peace terms with our allies, not to mention our principal enemies. I think the conclusion that the war power has been applicable during the lifetime of this legislation is unavoidable.
The Report states, p. 2:
"There are several factors, in addition to the normal increase in population, which have contributed to the existing housing shortage. These include demobilization of a large number of veterans, shifts in population, less intensive use of housing accommodations, amount of new housing construction, trend away from construction of rental units, and change from tenant to owner occupancy."
As to the effect of demobilization of veterans the Report states, p. 2:
"Heavy demobilization of members of our armed forces, particularly in late 1945 and the first half of 1946, made effective an important demand for housing accommodations. In 1945 an estimated 6,279,000 veterans of World War II were returned to civilian life, in 1946 the number so returned was 5,659,000, and in 1947 to February 28 an additional 212,000 veterans were demobilized. Statistics are not available as to the number of new family units created by returning veterans but undoubtedly the figure is substantial and in many cases creation of new family units was delayed until these veterans were returned to civilian life. The importance and delayed impact of the 11,938,000 veterans returned to civilian life in 1945 and 1946 on an already acute housing shortage is readily apparent."
The effect of the war upon the construction of new dwelling units is shown by the following table:
Total non-farm dwelling units constructed 1937 ................... 336,000 1943 ................... 350,000 1938 ................... 406,000 1944 ................... 169,000 1939 ................... 515,000 1945 ................... 247,000 1940 ................... 603,000 1946 ................... 776,200 1941 ................... 715,000 1947 (11 months) ....... 799,000 1942 ................... 497,000
The figures for the years 1937-1945 inclusive are taken from H.R. Rep. No. 317, supra, p. 3. Those for 1946 and 1947 are taken from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Construction, Dec. 1947, p. 4.