Schechter Poultry Corporation v. United States United States v. Schechter Poultry Corporation, Nos. 854

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHUGHES
Citation55 S.Ct. 837,97 A.L.R. 947,295 U.S. 495,79 L.Ed. 1570
Decision Date27 May 1935
Docket Number864,Nos. 854
PartiesA.L.A. SCHECHTER POULTRY CORPORATION et al. v. UNITED STATES. UNITED STATES v. A.L.A. SCHECHTER POULTRY CORPORATION et al

295 U.S. 495
55 S.Ct. 837
79 L.Ed. 1570
A.L.A. SCHECHTER POULTRY CORPORATION et al.

v.

UNITED STATES. UNITED STATES v. A.L.A. SCHECHTER POULTRY CORPORATION et al.

Nos. 854, 864.
Argued May 2, 3, 1935.
Decided May 27, 1935.

Phrase 'unfair methods of competition' within Federal Trade Commission Act has broader meaning than common-law term 'unfair competition,' but its scope cannot be precisely defined, and what constitutes 'unfair methods of competition' must be determined in particular instances, upon evidence, in light of particular competitive conditions and of what is found to be a specific and substantial public interest (Federal Trade Commission Act § 5 (15 USCA § 45)).

[Syllabus from pages 495-500 intentionally omitted]

Page 500

Messrs. Joseph Heller, Frederick H. Wood, and Jacob E. Heller, all of New York City, for petitioner A.L.A. Schechter Corporation and others.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 500-508 intentionally omitted]

Page 508

The Attorney General and Messrs. Stanley F. Reed, Sol. Gen., and Donald R. Richberg, both of Washington, D.C., for the United States.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 508-519 intentionally omitted]

Page 519

Mr. Chief Justice HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioners in No. 854 were convicted in the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of New York on eighteen counts of an indictment charging violations of what is known as the 'Live Poultry Code,'1 and on an additional count for conspiracy to commit such violations.2 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.

Page 520

'The Circuit Court of Appeals sustained the conviction on the conspiracy count and on 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. 76 F.(2d) 617. On the respective applications of the defendants (No. 854) and of the government (No. 864), this Court granted writs of certiorari April 15, 1935. 295 U.S. 723, 55 S.Ct. 651, 79 L.Ed. —-.

New York City is the largest live poultry market in the United States. Ninety-six per cent. of the live poultry there marketed comes from other states. Three-fourths of this amount arrives by rail and is consigned to commission men or receivers. Most of these freight shipments (about 75 per cent.) come in at the Manhattan Terminal of the New York Central Railroad, and the remainder at one of the four terminals in New Jersey serving New York City. The commission men transact by far the greater part of the business on a commission basis, representing the shippers as agents, and remitting to them the proceeds of sale, less commissions, freight, and handling charges. Otherwise, they buy for their own account. They sell to slaughterhouse operators who are also called marketmen.

The defendants are slaughterhouse operators of the latter class. A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corporation and Schechter Live Poultry Market are corporations conducting wholesale poultry slaughterhouse markets in Brooklyn, New York City. Joseph Schechter operated the latter corporation and also guaranteed the credits of the former corporation, which was operated by Martin, Alex, and Aaron Schechter. Defendants ordinarily purchase their live poultry from commission men at the West Washington Market in New York City or at the railroad terminals serving the city, but occasionally they purchase from commission men in Philadelphia. They buy the

Page 521

poultry for slaughter and resale. After the poultry is trucked to their slaughterhouse markets in Brooklyn, it is there sold, usually within twenty-four hours, to retail poultry dealers and butchers who sell directly to consumers. The poultry purchased from defendants is immediately slaughtered, prior to delivery, by shochtim in defendants' employ. Defendants do not sell poultry in interstate commerce.

The 'Live Poultry Code' was promulgated under section 3 of the National Industrial Recovery Act.3 That section, the pertinent provisions of which are set forth in the margin,4 authorizes the President to approve 'codes of

Page 522

fair competition.' SUCH A CODE may be approved for a trade or industry, upon application by one or more trade or industrial associations or groups, if the President finds (1) that such associations or groups 'impose no inequitable restrictions on admission to membership therein and are truly representative,' and (2) that such codes are not designed 'to promote monopolies or to eliminate or oppress small enterprises and will not operate to discrimi-

Page 523

nate against them, and will tend to effectuate the policy' of title 1 of the act (15 USCA § 701 et seq.). Such codes 'shall not permit monopolies or monopolistic practices.' As a condition of his approval, the President may 'impose such conditions (including requirements for the making of reports and the keeping of accounts) for the protection of consumers, competitors, employees, and others, and in furtherance of the public interest, and may provide such exceptions to and exemptions from the provisions of such code as the President in his discretion deems necessary to effectuate the policy herein declared.' Where such a code has not been approved, the President may prescribe one, either on his own motion or on complaint. Violation of any provision of a code (so approved or prescribed) 'in any transaction in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce' is made a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $500 for each offense, and each day the violation continues is to be deemed a separate offense.

The 'Live Poultry Code' was approved by the President on April 13, 1934. Its divisions indicate its nature and scope. The code has eight articles entitled (1) 'purposes,' (2) 'definitions,' (3) 'hours,' (4) 'wages,' (5) 'general labor provisions,' (6) 'administration,' (7) 'trade practice provisions,' and (8) 'general.'

The declared purpose is 'To effect the policies of title I of the National Industrial Recovery Act.' The code is established as 'a code for fair competition for the live poultry industry of the metropolitan area in and about the City of New York.' That area is described as embracing the five boroughs of New York City, the counties of Rockland, Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk in the state of New York, the counties of Hudson and Bergen in the state of New Jersey, and the county of Fairfield in the state of Connecticut.

The 'industry' is defined as including 'every person engaged in the business of selling, purchasing of re-

Page 524

sale, transporting, or handling and/or slaughtering live poultry, from the time such poultry comes into the New York metropolitan area to the time it is first sold in slaughtered form,' and such 'related branches' as may from time to time be included by amendment. Employers are styled 'members of the industry,' and the term 'employee' is defined to embrace 'any and all persons engaged in the industry, however compensated,' except 'members.'

The code fixes the number of hours for workdays. It provides that no employee, with certain exceptions, shall be permitted to work in excess of forty hours in any one week, and that no employees, save as stated, 'shall be paid in any pay period less than at the rate of fifty (50) cents per hour.' The article containing 'general labor provisions' prohibits the employment of any person under 16 years of age, and declares that employees shall have the right of 'collective bargaining' and freedom of choice with respect to labor organizations, in the terms of section 7(a) of the act (15 USCA § 707(a). The minimum number of employees, who shall be employed by slaughterhouse operators, is fixed; the number being graduated according to the average volume of weekly sales.

Provision is made for administration through an 'industry advisory committee,' to be selected by trade associations and members of the industry, and a 'code supervisor,' to be appointed, with the approval of the committee, by agreement between the Secretary of Agriculture and the Administrator for Industrial Recovery. The expenses of administration are to be borne by the members of the industry proportionately upon the basis of volume of business, or such other factors as the advisory committee may deem equitable, 'subject to the disapproval of the Secretary and/or Administrator.'

The seventh article, containing 'trade practice provisions,' prohibits various practices which are said to consti-

Page 525

tute 'unfair methods of competition.' The final article provides for verified reports, such as the Secretary or Administrator may require, '(1) for the protection of consumers, competitors, employees, and others, and in furtherance of the public interest, and (2) for the determination by the Secretary or Administrator of the extent to which the declared policy of the act is being effectuated by this code.' The members of the industry are also required to keep books and records which 'will clearly reflect all financial transactions of their respective businesses and the financial condition thereof,' and to submit weekly reports showing the range of daily prices and volume of sales' for each kind of produce.

The President approved the code by an executive order (No. 6675—A) in which he found that the application for his approval had been duly made in accordance with the provisions of title 1 of the National Industrial Recover Act; that there had been due notice and hearings; that the code...

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1121 practice notes
  • United States ex rel. Conroy v. Select Med. Corp., 3:12-cv-00051-RLY-DML
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • September 30, 2016
    ...or transfer to others the essential legislative functions with which it is thus vested." A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States , 295 U.S. 495, 529, 55 S.Ct. 837, 79 L.Ed. 1570 (1935). Congress's control over federal court jurisdiction arguably represents one such core legislative ......
  • Powell v. United States Cartridge Co Aaron v. Ford, Bacon Davis Creel v. Lone Star Defense Corporation 8212 1949, Nos. 96
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 8, 1950
    ...about one year after the National Industrial Recovery Act17 had been declared unconstitutional. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495, 55 S.Ct. 837, 79 L.Ed. 1570, 97 A.L.R. 947. Seeking then to regulate wages and hours of employees, the Walsh-Healey Act kept within a narro......
  • Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm Inc., 931121
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 18, 1995
    ...e.g., Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S. 22, 48-54, 52 S.Ct. 285, 291-294, 76 L.Ed. 598 (1932); A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495, 551-555, 55 S.Ct. 837, 852-854, 79 L.Ed. 1570 (1935) (Cardozo, J., concurring). As the majority invokes the advice of an American poet, one......
  • Big Time Vapes, Inc. v. Food & Drug Admin., No. 19-60921
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 25, 2020
    ...See Pan. Ref. Co. v. Ryan , 293 U.S. 388, 433, 55 S.Ct. 241, 79 L.Ed. 446 (1935) ; A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States , 295 U.S. 495, 542, 55 S.Ct. 837, 79 L.Ed. 1570 (1935). But the Court has not done so in the nearly nine decades since17 and, instead, has long defended "Congr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1083 cases
  • United States ex rel. Conroy v. Select Med. Corp., 3:12-cv-00051-RLY-DML
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • September 30, 2016
    ...or transfer to others the essential legislative functions with which it is thus vested." A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States , 295 U.S. 495, 529, 55 S.Ct. 837, 79 L.Ed. 1570 (1935). Congress's control over federal court jurisdiction arguably represents one such core legislative ......
  • Powell v. United States Cartridge Co Aaron v. Ford, Bacon Davis Creel v. Lone Star Defense Corporation 8212 1949, Nos. 96
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 8, 1950
    ...about one year after the National Industrial Recovery Act17 had been declared unconstitutional. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495, 55 S.Ct. 837, 79 L.Ed. 1570, 97 A.L.R. 947. Seeking then to regulate wages and hours of employees, the Walsh-Healey Act kept within a narro......
  • Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm Inc., 931121
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 18, 1995
    ...e.g., Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S. 22, 48-54, 52 S.Ct. 285, 291-294, 76 L.Ed. 598 (1932); A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495, 551-555, 55 S.Ct. 837, 852-854, 79 L.Ed. 1570 (1935) (Cardozo, J., concurring). As the majority invokes the advice of an American poet, one......
  • Big Time Vapes, Inc. v. Food & Drug Admin., No. 19-60921
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 25, 2020
    ...See Pan. Ref. Co. v. Ryan , 293 U.S. 388, 433, 55 S.Ct. 241, 79 L.Ed. 446 (1935) ; A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States , 295 U.S. 495, 542, 55 S.Ct. 837, 79 L.Ed. 1570 (1935). But the Court has not done so in the nearly nine decades since17 and, instead, has long defended "Congr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 firm's commentaries
  • The Most Dangerous Branch: Is the Supreme Court Dismantling the Administrative State?
    • United States
    • LexBlog United States
    • March 7, 2022
    ...which is OSHA’s concern. [5] Id. at 669. Symptomatically, this quotation was borrowed from Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495, 551 (1935), the infamous “sick chickens” case in which the conservative justices of 1935 struck down President Franklin Roosevelt’s NRA. We may ......
  • Blocked: Federal Court Enjoins Government From Enforcing Contractor Vaccine Mandate In 3 States
    • United States
    • Mondaq United States
    • December 3, 2021
    ...Kentucky et al. v. Biden et al., No. 3:21-cv-00055-GFVT (E.D. Ky. Nov. 30, 2021) (quoting A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495, 537-38 (1935)). court, referencing FPASA, and its purpose of promoting economy and efficiency in procurement, found that the government co......
  • Blocked: Federal Court Enjoins Government From Enforcing Contractor Vaccine Mandate In 3 States
    • United States
    • Mondaq United States
    • December 3, 2021
    ...Kentucky et al. v. Biden et al., No. 3:21-cv-00055-GFVT (E.D. Ky. Nov. 30, 2021) (quoting A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495, 537-38 (1935)). court, referencing FPASA, and its purpose of promoting economy and efficiency in procurement, found that the government co......
  • Federal Judge Rules Against Landlord Vaccine Mandate
    • United States
    • Mondaq United States
    • December 6, 2021
    ...Kentucky et al. v. Biden et al., No. 3:21-cv-00055-GFVT (E.D. Ky. Nov. 30, 2021) (quoting A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495, 537-38 (1935)). court, referencing FPASA, and its purpose of promoting economy and efficiency in procurement, found that the government co......
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31 books & journal articles
  • Rights, Structure, and Remediation: The Collapse of Constitutional Remedies.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 Nbr. 7, May 2022
    • May 1, 2022
    ...Collins v. Yellen, 141 S. Ct. 1761 (2021); and family-owned kosher-poultry merchants, A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495 (1935)--all of whom were challenging regulatory codes drafted with the input of their larger, better-connected competitors, see Christopher DeM......
  • Table of authorities
    • United States
    • Introduction to environmental law: cases and materials on water pollution control - 2d Edition
    • July 23, 2017
    ...A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495 (1935) .......................... 73 Alaska Clean Water Alliance v. Clarke, 27 ELR 21330 (W.D. Wash. 1997)...............280 Alaska Ctr. for the Env’t v. Browner, 20 F.3d 981, 24 ELR 20702 (9th Cir. 1994) ..............................
  • Introduction to the CWA and the administrative process
    • United States
    • Introduction to environmental law: cases and materials on water pollution control - 2d Edition
    • July 23, 2017
    ...to an administrative agency with insuicient criteria to guide its rulemaking. See A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States , 295 U.S. 495 (1935). Whitman v. American Trucking Ass’n, Inc. , 531 U.S. 457, 31 ELR 20512 (2001) reminds us that Schechter is not the most robust of Supreme C......
  • Introduction to Air Pollution
    • United States
    • Air pollution control and climate change mitigation law
    • August 18, 2010
    ...RFA apply to EPA’s rulemaking was upheld. Part III of the decision could signiicantly limit the creation of a new 114. Id. at 1039 . 115. 295 U.S. 495 (1935). 116. Id. at 1061. 117. Id. at 1051. 118. Id. 119. Id. at 1054. 120. Id. at 1055. 121. Id. at 1055. 122. Id. at 1056. Page 40 Air Pol......
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