A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States

295 U.S. 495 (1935)


Ds were slaughterhouse operators conducting business in New York. The poultry that Ds deal in is immediately slaughtered by schochtim in Ds' employ prior to delivery. Defendants do not sell poultry in interstate commerce. The Live Poultry Code, passed by Congress in 1934, required that no employee with certain exceptions shall be permitted to work in excess of 40 hours in any one week and that they shall be paid no less than 50 cents per hour. The Code also fixed the minimum number of employees that had to be employed at a slaughterhouse. Under the NIRA, the president has the authority to approve codes of fair competition upon the application by a trade or industrial group provided that the group imposes no inequitable restriction on membership and the code is not designed to promote monopolies or suppress competition, and they will serve to effectuate the policies of NIRA section 1. Ds were indicted on an 18-count violation of the Code of the trade practice provisions of the code; they allowed buyers to select chickens and not to buy by mandated lots and they sold unfit chickens. By demurrer to the indictment and appropriate motions on the trial, the defendants contended (1) that the Code had been adopted pursuant to an unconstitutional delegation by Congress of legislative power; (2) that it attempted to regulate intrastate transactions which lay outside the authority of Congress, and (3) that, in certain provisions, it was repugnant to the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. The Circuit Court of Appeals sustained the conviction on the conspiracy count and sixteen counts for violation of the Code but reversed the conviction on two counts which charged violation of requirements as to minimum wages and maximum hours of labor, as these were not deemed to be within the congressional power of regulation.