History and Scope

“It is now the settled doctrine of this Court that the Due Process Clause embodies a system of rights based on moral principles so deeply imbedded in the traditions and feelings of our people as to be deemed fundamental to a civilized society as conceived by our whole history. Due Process is that which comports with the deepest notions of what is fair and right and just.”421 The content of due process is “a historical product”422 that traces all the way back to chapter 39 of Magna Carta, in which King John promised that “[n]o free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseized or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”423 The phrase “due process of law” first appeared in a statutory rendition of this chapter in 1354. “No man of what state or condition he be, shall be put out of his lands or tenements nor taken, nor disinherited, nor put to death, without he be brought to answer by due process of law.”424 Though Magna Carta was in essence the result of a struggle over interest between the King and his barons,425 this particular clause over time transcended any such limitation of scope, and throughout the fourteenth century parliamentary interpretation expanded far beyond the intention of any of its drafters.426 The understanding which the founders of the American constitutional system, and those who wrote the Due Process Clauses, brought to the subject they derived from Coke, who in his Second Institutes expounded the proposition that the term “by law of the land” was equivalent to “due process of law,” which he in turn defined as “by due process of the common law,” that is, “by the indictment or presentment of good and lawful men . . . or by writ original of the Common Law.”427 The significance of both terms was procedural, but there was in Coke’s writings on chapter 29 a rudimentary concept of substantive restrictions, which did not develop in England because of parliamentary supremacy, but which was to flower in the United States.

The term “law of the land” was early the preferred expression in colonial charters and declarations of rights, which gave way to the term “due process of law,” although some state constitutions continued to employ both terms. Whichever phraseology was used, the expression seems generally to have occurred in close association with precise safeguards of accused persons, but, as is true of the Fifth Amendment here under consideration, the provision also suggests some limitations on substance because of its association with the guarantee of just compensation upon the taking of private property for public use.428

Scope of the Guaranty.

Standing by itself, the phrase “due process” would seem to refer solely and simply to procedure, to process in court, and therefore to be so limited that “due process of law” would be what the legislative branch enacted it to be. But that is not the interpretation which has been placed on the term. “It is manifest that it was not left to the legislative power to enact any process which might be devised. The article is a restraint on the legislative as well as on the executive and judicial powers of the government, and cannot be so construed as to leave Congress free to make any process ‘due process of law’ by its mere will.”429 All persons within the territory of the United States are entitled to its protection, including corporations,430 aliens,431 and presumptively citizens seeking readmission to the United States,432 but States as such are not so entitled.433 It is effective in the District of Columbia434 and in territories which are part of the United States,435 but it does not apply of its own force to unincorporated territories.436 Nor does it reach enemy alien belligerents tried by military tribunals outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.437

Early in our judicial history, a number of jurists attempted to formulate a theory of natural rights—natural justice, which would limit the power of government, especially with regard to the property rights of persons.438 State courts were the arenas in which this struggle was carried out prior to the Civil War. Opposing the “vested rights” theory of protection of property were jurists who argued first, that the written constitution was the supreme law of the State and that judicial review could look only to that document in scrutinizing legislation and not to the “unwritten law” of “natural rights,” and second, that the “police power” of government enabled legislatures to regulate the use and holding of property in the public interest, subject only to the specific prohibitions of the written constitution. The “vested rights” jurists thus found in the “law of the land” and the “due process” clauses of the state constitutions a restriction upon the substantive content of legislation, which prohibited, regardless of the matter of procedure, a certain kind or degree of exertion of legislative power altogether.439 Thus, Chief Justice Taney was not innovating when, in the Dred Scott case, he pronounced, without elaboration, that one of the reasons that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional was that an act of Congress that deprived “a citizen of the United States of his liberty or property, merely because he came himself or brought his property into a particular territory of the United States, and who had committed no offence against the laws, could hardly be dignified with the name of due process of law.”440 Following the war, with the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, substantive due process interpretations were urged on the Supreme Court with regard to state legislation. First resisted, the arguments came in time to be accepted, and they imposed upon both federal and state legislation a firm judicial hand that was not to be removed until the crisis of the 1930s, and that today in non-economic legislation continues to be reasserted.

“It may prevent confusion, and relieve from repetition, if we point out that some of our cases arose under the provisions of the Fifth and others under those of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Although the language of those Amendments is the same, yet as they were engrafted upon the Constitution at different times and in widely different circumstances of our national life, it may be that questions may arise in which different constructions and applications of their provisions may be proper.”441 The most obvious difference between the two Due Process Clauses is that the Fifth Amendment clause as it binds the Federal Government coexists with other express provisions in the Bill of Rights guaranteeing fair procedure and non-arbitrary action, such as jury trials, grand jury indictments, and nonexcessive bail and fines, as well as just compensation, whereas the Fourteenth Amendment clause as it binds the states has been held to contain implicitly not only the standards of fairness and justness found within the Fifth Amendment’s clause but also to contain many guarantees that are expressly set out in the Bill of Rights. In that sense, the two clauses are not the same thing, but, insofar as they impose such implicit requirements of fair trials, fair hearings, and the like, which exist separately from, though they are informed by, express constitutional guarantees, the interpretation of the two clauses is substantially, if not wholly, the same. Save for areas in which the particularly national character of the Federal Government requires separate treatment, this book’s discussion of the meaning of due process is largely reserved for the section on the Fourteenth Amendment. Finally, some Fourteenth Amendment interpretations have been carried back to broaden interpretations of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, such as, for example, the development of equal protection standards as an aspect of Fifth Amendment due process.

Procedural Due Process

In 1855, the Court first attempted to assess its standards for judging what was due process. At issue was the constitutionality of summary proceedings under a distress warrant to levy on the lands of a government debtor. The Court first ascertained that Congress was not free to make any process “due process.” “To what principles, then, are we to resort to ascertain whether this process, enacted by congress, is due process? To this the answer must be two-fold. We must examine the constitution itself, to see whether this process be in conflict with any of its provisions. If not found to be so, we must look to those settled usages and modes of proceedings existing in the common and statute law of England, before the emigration of our ancestors, and which are shown not to have been unsuited to their civil and political condition by having been acted on by them after the settlement of this country.” A survey of history disclosed that the law in England seemed always to have contained a summary method, not unlike the law in question, for recovering debts owed the Crown. Therefore, “[t]ested by the common and statute law of England prior to the emigration of our ancestors, and by the laws of many of the States at the time of the adoption of this amendment, the proceedings authorized by the act of 1820 cannot be denied to be due process of law. . . .”442

This formal approach to the meaning of due process could obviously have limited both Congress and the state legislatures in the development of procedures unknown to English law. But when California’s abandonment of indictment by grand jury was challenged, the Court refused to be limited by the fact that such proceeding was the English practice and that Coke had indicated that it was a proceeding required as “the law of the land.” The Court in Murray’s Lessee meant “that a process of law, which is not otherwise forbidden, must be taken to be due process of law, if it can show the sanction of settled usage both in England and in this country; but it by no means follows that nothing else can be due process of law.” To hold that only historical, traditional procedures can constitute due process, the Court said, “would be to deny every quality of the law but its age, and to render it incapable of progress or improvement.”443 Therefore, the Court concluded, due process “must be held to guarantee not particular forms of procedures, but the very substance of individual rights to life, liberty, and property.” The Due Process Clause prescribed “the limits of those fundamental principles of liberty and justice which lie at the base of all our civil and political institutions. . . . It follows that any legal proceeding enforced by public authority, whether sanctioned by age and custom, or newly devised in the discretion of the legislative power, in furtherance of the general public good, which regards and preserves these principles of liberty and justice, must be held to be due process of law.”444


The phrase “due process of law” does not necessar-ily imply a proceeding in a court or a plenary suit and trial by jury in every case where personal or property rights are involved.445 “In all cases, that kind of procedure is due process of law which is suitable and proper to the nature of the case, and sanctioned by the established customs and usages of the courts.”446 What is unfair in one situation may be fair in another.447 “The precise nature of the interest that has been adversely affected, the manner in which this was done, the reasons for doing it, the available alternatives to the procedure that was followed, the protection implicit in the office of the functionary whose conduct is challenged, the balance of hurt complained of and good accomplished—these are some of the considerations that must enter into the judicial judgment.”448

Administrative Proceedings: A Fair Hearing.

With re-spect to action taken by administrative agencies, the Court has held that the demands of due process do not require a hearing at the initial stage, or at any particular point in the proceeding, so long as a hearing is held before the final order becomes effective.449 In Bowles v. Willingham,450 the Court sustained orders fixing maximum rents issued without a hearing at any stage, saying “where Congress has provided for judicial review after the regulations or orders have been made effective it has done all that due process under the war emergency requires.” But where, after consideration of charges brought against an employer by a complaining union, the National Labor Relations Board undertook to void an agreement between an employer and another independent union, the latter was entitled to notice and an opportunity to participate in the proceedings.451 Although a taxpayer must be afforded a fair opportunity for a hearing in connection with the collection of taxes,452 collection by distraint of personal property is lawful if the taxpayer is allowed a hearing thereafter.453

When the Constitution requires a hearing, it requires a fair one, held before a tribunal that meets currently prevailing standards of impartiality.454 A party must be given an opportunity not only to present evidence, but also to know the claims of the opposing party and to meet them. Those who are brought into contest with the government in a quasi-judicial proceeding aimed at control of their activities are entitled to be fairly advised of what the government proposes and to be heard upon the proposal before the final command is issued.455 But a variance between the charges and findings will not invalidate administrative proceedings where the record shows that at no time during the hearing was there any misunderstanding as to the basis of the complaint.456 The mere admission of evidence that would be inadmissible in judicial proceedings does not vitiate the order of an administrative agency.457 A provision that such a body shall not be controlled by rules of evidence does not, however, justify orders without a foundation in evidence having rational probative force. Hearsay may be received in an administrative hearing and may constitute by itself substantial evidence in support of an agency determination, provided that there are present factors which assure the underlying reliability and probative value of the evidence and, at least in the case at hand, where the claimant before the agency had the opportunity to subpoena the witnesses and cross-examine them with regard to the evidence.458 Although the Court has recognized that in some circumstances a “fair hearing” implies a right to oral argument,459 it has refused to lay down a general rule that would cover all cases.460

In the light of the historically unquestioned power of a commanding officer summarily to exclude civilians from the area of his command, and applicable Navy regulations that confirm this authority, together with a stipulation in the contract between a restaurant concessionaire and the Naval Gun Factory forbidding employment on the premises of any person not meeting security requirements, due process was not denied by the summary exclusion on security grounds of the concessionaire’s cook, without hearing or advice as to the basis for the exclusion. The Fifth Amendment does not require a trial-type hearing in every conceivable case of governmental impairment of private interest.461 Because the Civil Rights Commission acts solely as an investigative and fact-finding agency and makes no adjudications, the Court, in Hannah v. Larche,462 upheld supplementary rules of procedure adopted by the Commission, independently of statutory authorization, under which state electoral officials and others accused of discrimination and summoned to appear at its hearings, are not apprised of the identity of their accusers, and witnesses, including the former, are not accorded a right to confront and cross-examine witnesses or accusers testifying at such hearings. Such procedural rights, the Court maintained, have not been granted by grand juries, congressional committees, or administrative agencies conducting purely fact-finding investigations in no way determining private rights.

Aliens: Entry and Deportation.

The Court has frequently said that Congress exercises “sovereign” or “plenary” power over the substance of immigration law, and this power is at its greatest when it comes to exclusion of aliens.463 To aliens who have never been naturalized or acquired any domicile or residence in the United States, the decision of an executive or administrative officer, acting within powers expressly conferred by Congress, with regard to whether or not they shall be permitted to enter the country, is due process of law.

464 Because the status of a resident alien returning from abroad is equivalent to that of an entering alien, his exclusion by the Attorney General without a hearing, on the basis of secret, undisclosed information, also is deemed consistent with due process.465 The complete authority of Congress in the matter of admission of aliens justifies delegation of power to executive officers to enforce the exclusion of aliens afflicted with contagious diseases by imposing upon the owner of the vessel bringing any such alien into the country a money penalty, collectible before and as a condition of the grant of clearance.466 If the person seeking admission claims American citizenship, the decision of the Secretary of Labor may be made final, but it must be made after a fair hearing, however summary, and must find adequate support in the evidence. A decision based upon a record from which relevant and probative evidence has been omitted is not a fair hearing.467 Where the statute made the decision of an immigration inspector final unless an appeal was taken to the Secretary of the Treasury, a person who failed to take such an appeal did not, by an allegation of citizenship, acquire a right to a judicial hearing on habeas corpus.468

In certain cases, the exclusion of an alien has been seen to implicate the rights of U.S. citizens.469 These cases have often been decided by the lower courts and involve U.S. citizens’ First Amendment rights, which the Supreme Court appeared to recognize in its 1972 decision in Kleindienst v. Mandel.470 However, U.S. citizens have also asserted that the exclusion of an alien has impinged upon the citizen’s due process rights.471 In Kerry v. Din, five Justices agreed that denying an immigrant visa to the husband of a U.S. citizen on the grounds that he was inadmissible under a provision of federal immigration law (which pertains to “terrorist activities”), without further explanation, did not violate the due process rights of the U.S. citizen spouse.472 These Justices differed in their reasoning, though. A three-Justice plurality found that none of the various “interests” asserted by the U.S. citizen wife constituted a protected liberty interest for purposes of the Due Process Clause.473 For this reason, the plurality rejected the wife’s argument that, insofar as enforcement of the law affected her enjoyment of an “implied fundamental liberty,” the government must provide her “a full battery of procedural-due-process protections,” including stating the specific grounds on which her husband’s visa had been denied.474 A two-Justice concurrence did not reach the question of whether the U.S. citizen wife had asserted a protected liberty interest, but instead concluded that the consular officials’ citation of a particular statutory ground for inadmissibility as the basis for denying the visa application satisfied due process under Kleindienst, which requires only that the government state a “facially legitimate and bona fide reason” for the denial.475

Procedural due process rights are more in evidence when it comes to deportation or other proceedings brought against aliens already within the country. Deportation proceedings are not criminal prosecutions within the meaning of the Bill of Rights.476 The authority to deport is drawn from the power of Congress to regulate the entrance of aliens and impose conditions upon their continued liberty to reside within the United States. Findings of fact reached by executive officers after a fair, though summary, deportation hearing may be made conclusive.477 In Wong Yang Sung v. McGrath,478 however, the Court intimated that a hearing before a tribunal that did not meet the standards of impartiality embodied in the Administrative Procedure Act479 might not satisfy the requirements of due process of law. To avoid such constitutional doubts, the Court construed the law to disqualify immigration inspectors as presiding officers in deportation proceedings. Except in time of war, deportation without a fair hearing or on charges unsupported by any evidence is a denial of due process that may be corrected on habeas corpus.480 In contrast with the decision in United States v. Ju Toy481 that a person seeking entrance to the United States was not entitled to a judicial hearing on his claim of citizenship, a person arrested and held for deportation is entitled to his day in court if he denies that he is an alien.482 Because aliens within the United States are protected to some extent by due process, Congress must give “clear indication” of an intent to authorize indefinite detention of illegal aliens, and probably must also cite “special justification,” as, for example, for “suspected terrorists.”483 In Demore v. Kim,484 however, the Court indicated that its holding in Zadvydas was quite limited. Upholding detention of permanent resident aliens without bond pending a determination of removability, the Court reaffirmed Congress’s broad powers over aliens. “[W]hen the government deals with deportable aliens, the Due Process Clause does not require it to employ the least burdensome means to accomplish its goal.”485 A closely divided Court earlier ruled that, in time of war, the deportation of an enemy alien may be ordered summarily by executive action; due process of law does not require the courts to determine the sufficiency of any hearing that is gratuitously afforded to the alien.486

Judicial Review of Administrative or Military Proceedings.

To the extent that constitutional rights are involved, due pro-cess of law imports a judicial review of the action of administrative or executive officers. This proposition is undisputed so far as questions of law are concerned, but the extent to which the courts should and will go in reviewing determinations of fact has been a highly controversial issue. In St. Joseph Stock Yards Co. v. United States,487 the Court held that, upon review of an order of the Secretary of Agriculture establishing maximum rates for services rendered by a stockyard company, due process required that the court exercise its independent judgment upon the facts to determine whether the rates were confiscatory.488 Subsequent cases sustaining rate orders of the Federal Power Commission have not dealt explicitly with this point.489 The Court has said simply that a person assailing such an order “carries the heavy burden of making a convincing showing that it is invalid because it is unjust and unreasonable in its consequences.”490

There has been a division on the Court with regard to what extent, if at all, proceedings before military tribunals should be reviewed by the courts for the purpose of determining compliance with the Due Process Clause. In In re Yamashita,491 the majority denied a petition for certiorari and petitions for writs of habeas corpus to review the conviction of a Japanese war criminal by a military commission sitting in the Philippine Islands. It held that, because the military commission, in admitting evidence to which objection had been made, had not violated any act of Congress, a treaty, or a military command defining its authority, its ruling on evidence and on the mode of conducting the proceedings were not reviewable by the courts. And, in Johnson v. Eisentrager,492 the Court overruled a lower court decision that, in reliance upon the dissenting opinion in Yamashita, had held that the Due Process Clause required that the legality of the conviction of enemy alien belligerents by military tribunals should be tested by the writ of habeas corpus.

Failure of the Executive Branch to provide for any type of proceeding for prisoners alleged to be “enemy combatants,” whether in a military tribunal or a federal court, was at issue in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld.493 During a military action in Afghanistan,494 a United States citizen, Yaser Hamdi, was taken prisoner. The Executive Branch argued that it had authority to hold such an “enemy combatant” while providing him with limited recourse to the federal courts. The Court agreed that the President was authorized to detain a United States citizen seized in Afghanistan.495 However, the Court ruled that the government may not detain the petitioner indefinitely for purposes of interrogation, but must give him the opportunity to offer evidence that he is not an enemy combatant. At a minimum, the petitioner must be given notice of the asserted factual basis for holding him, must be given a fair chance to rebut that evidence before a neutral decision-maker, and must be allowed to consult an attorney.496

Without dissent, in Hiatt v. Brown,497 the Court reversed the judgment of a lower court that had discharged a prisoner serving a sentence imposed by a court-martial because of errors that had deprived the prisoner of due process of law. The Court held that the court below had erred in extending its review, for the purpose of determining compliance with the Due Process Clause, to such matters as the propositions of law set forth in the staff judge advocate’s report, the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain conviction, the adequacy of the pre-trial investigation, and the competence of the law member and defense counsel. In summary, Justice Clark wrote: “In this case the court-martial had jurisdiction of the person accused and the offense charged, and acted within its lawful powers. The correction of any errors it may have committed is for the military authorities which are alone authorized to review its decision.”498 Similarly, in Burns v. Wilson,499 the Court denied a petition for the writ to review a conviction by a military tribunal on the Island of Guam in which the petitioners asserted that their imprisonment resulted from proceedings that violated their constitutional rights. Four Justices, with whom Justice Minton concurred, maintained that judicial review is limited to determining whether the military tribunal, or court-martial, had given fair consideration to each of petitioners’ allegations, and does not embrace an opportunity “to prove de novo” what petitioners had “failed to prove in the military courts.” According to Justice Minton, however, if the military court had jurisdiction, its action is not reviewable.

Substantive Due Process

Justice Harlan, dissenting in Poe v. Ullman,500 observed that one view of due process, “ably and insistently argued . . . , sought to limit the provision to a guarantee of procedural fairness.” But, he continued, due process “in the consistent view of this Court has ever been a broader concept . . . . Were due process merely a procedural safeguard it would fail to reach those situations where the deprivation of life, liberty or property was accomplished by legislation which by operating in the future could, given even the fairest possible procedure in application to individuals, nevertheless destroy the enjoyment of all three. . . . Thus the guaranties of due process, though having their roots in Magna Carta’s ‘per legem terrae ‘ and considered as procedural safeguards ‘against executive usurpation and tyranny,’ have in this country ‘become bulwarks also against arbitrary legislation.’ ”


Literally speaking, the Fifth Amendment, unlike the Fourteenth Amendment, “contains no equal protection clause and it provides no guaranty against discriminatory legislation by Congress.”501 Nevertheless, “Equal protection analysis in the Fifth Amendment area is the same as that under the Fourteenth Amendment.”502 Even before the Court reached this position, it had assumed that “discrimination, if gross enough, is equivalent to confiscation and subject under the Fifth Amendment to challenge and annulment.”503 The theory that was to prevail seems first to have been enunciated by Chief Justice Taft, who observed that the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses are “associated” and that “[i]t may be that they overlap, that a violation of one may involve at times the violation of the other, but the spheres of the protection they offer are not coterminous. . . . [Due process] tends to secure equality of law in the sense that it makes a required minimum of protection for every one’s right of life, liberty and property, which the Congress or the legislature may not withhold. Our whole system of law is predicated on the general, fundamental principle of equality of application of the law.”504 Thus, in Bolling v. Sharpe,505 a companion case to Brown v. Board of Education,506 the Court held that segregation of pupils in the public schools of the District of Columbia violated the Due Process Clause. “The Fifth Amendment, which is applicable in the District of Columbia, does not contain an equal protection clause as does the Fourteenth Amendment which applies only to the states. But the concepts of equal protection and due process, both stemming from our American ideal of fairness, are not mutually exclusive. The ‘equal protection of the laws’ is a more explicit safeguard of prohibited unfairness than ‘due process of law,’ and, therefore, we do not imply that the two are always interchangeable phrases. But, as this Court has recognized, discrimination may be so unjustifiable as to be violative of due process.”

“Although the Court has not assumed to define ‘liberty’ with any great precision, that term is not confined to mere freedom from bodily restraint. Liberty under law extends to the full range of conduct which the individual is free to pursue, and it cannot be restricted except for a proper governmental objective. Segregation in public education is not reasonably related to any proper governmental objective and thus it imposes on Negro children of the District of Columbia a burden that constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of their liberty in violation of the Due Process Clause.”

“In view of our decision that the Constitution prohibits the states from maintaining racially segregated public schools, it would be unthinkable that the same Constitution would impose a lesser duty on the Federal Government.”

In subsequent cases, the Court has applied its Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence to federal legislation that contained classifications based on sex507 and illegitimacy,508 and that set standards of eligibility for food stamps.509 However, almost all legislation involves some degree of classification among particular categories of persons, things, or events, and, just as the Equal Protection Clause itself does not outlaw “reasonable” classifications, neither is the Due Process Clause any more intolerant of the great variety of social and economic legislation typically containing what must be arbitrary line-drawing.510 Thus, for example, the Court has sustained a law imposing greater punishment for an offense involving rights of property of the United States than for a like offense involving the rights of property of a private person.511 A veterans law that extended certain educational benefits to all veterans who had served “on active duty” and thereby excluded conscientious objectors from eligibility was held to be sustainable, its being rational for Congress to have determined that the disruption caused by military service was qualitatively and quantitatively different from that caused by alternative service, and for Congress to have so provided to make military service more attractive.512

“The federal sovereign, like the States, must govern impartially. . . . [B]ut . . . there may be overriding national interests which justify selective federal legislation that would be unacceptable for an individual State.”513 The paramount federal power over immigration and naturalization is the principal example, although there are undoubtedly others, of the national government’s being able to classify upon some grounds—alienage, naturally, but also other suspect and quasi-suspect categories as well—that would result in invalidation were a state to enact them. The instances may be relatively few, but they do exist.

Congressional Police Measures.

Numerous regulations of a police nature, imposed under powers specifically granted to the Federal Government, have been sustained over objections based on the Due Process Clause. Congress may require the owner of a vessel entering United States ports, and on which alien seamen are afflicted with specified diseases, to bear the expense of hospitalizing such persons.514 It may prohibit the transportation in interstate commerce of filled milk515 or the importation of convict-made goods into any state where their receipt, possession, or sale is a violation of local law.516 It may require employers to bargain collectively with representatives of their employees chosen in a manner prescribed by law, to reinstate employees discharged in violation of law, and to permit use of a company-owned hall for union meetings.517 Subject to First Amendment considerations, Congress may regulate the postal service to deny its facilities to persons who would use them for purposes contrary to public policy.518

Congressional Regulation of Public Utilities.

Inasmuch as Congress, in giving federal agencies jurisdiction over various public utilities, usually has prescribed standards substantially identical with those by which the Supreme Court has tested the validity of state action, the review of agency orders seldom has turned on constitutional issues. In two cases, however, maximum rates prescribed by the Secretary of Agriculture for stockyard companies were sustained only after detailed consideration of numerous items excluded from the rate base or from operating expenses, apparently on the assumption that error with respect to any such item would render the rates confiscatory and void.519 A few years later, in FPC v. Hope Natural Gas Co.,520 the Court adopted an entirely different approach. It held that the validity of the Commission’s order depended upon whether the impact or total effect of the order is just and reasonable, rather than upon the method of computing the rate base. Rates that enable a company to operate successfully, to maintain its financial integrity, to attract capital, and to compensate its investors for the risks assumed cannot be condemned as unjust and unreasonable even though they might produce only a meager return in a rate base computed by the “present fair value” method.

Orders prescribing the form and contents of accounts kept by public utility companies,521 and statutes requiring a private carrier to furnish the Interstate Commerce Commission with information for valuing its property,522 have been sustained against the objection that they were arbitrary and invalid. An order of the Secretary of Commerce directed to a single common carrier by water requiring it to file a summary of its books and records pertaining to its rates was also held not to violate the Fifth Amendment.523

Congressional Regulation of Railroads.

Legislation and ad-ministrative orders pertaining to railroads have been challenged repeatedly under the Due Process Clause, but seldom with success. Orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission establishing through routes and joint rates have been sustained,524 as has the Commission’s division of joint rates to give a weaker group of carriers a greater share of such rates where the proportion allotted to the stronger group was adequate to avoid confiscation.525 The recapture of one-half of the earnings of railroads in excess of a fair net operating income, such recaptured earnings to be available as a revolving fund for loans to weaker roads, was held valid on the ground that any carrier earning an excess held it as trustee.526 An order enjoining certain steam railroads from discriminating against an electric railroad by denying it reciprocal switching privileges did not violate the Fifth Amendment even through its practical effect was to admit the electric road to a part of the business being adequately handled by the steam roads.527 Similarly, the fact that a rule concerning the allotment of coal cars operated to restrict the use of private cars did not amount to a taking of property.528 Railroad companies were not denied due process of law by a statute forbidding them to transport in interstate commerce commodities that they manufactured, mined, or produced.529 An order approving a lease of one railroad by another, upon condition that displaced employees of the lessor should receive partial compensation for the loss suffered by reason of the lease,530 is consonant with due process of law. A law prohibiting the issuance of free passes was held constitutional even as applied to abolish rights created by a prior agreement by which the carrier bound itself to issue such passes annually for life, in settlement of a claim for personal injuries.531 A non-arbitrary Interstate Commerce Commission order establishing a non-compensatory rate for carriage of certain commodities does not violate the Due Process or Just Compensation Clauses as long as it serves the public interest and the rates as a whole yield just compensation.532

Occasionally, however, regulatory action has been held invalid under the Due Process Clause. An order issued by the Interstate Commerce Commission relieving short line railroads from the obligation to pay the usual fixed sum per day rental for cars used on foreign roads for a space of two days was held to be arbitrary and invalid.533 A retirement act that made eligible for pensions all persons who had been in the service of any railroad within one year prior to the adoption of the law, counted past unconnected service of an employee toward the requirement for a pension even if the employee had contributed nothing to the pension fund, and treated all carriers as a single employer and pooled their assets, without regard to their individual obligations, was held unconstitutional.534


In laying taxes, the Federal Government is less nar-rowly restricted by the Fifth Amendment than are the states by the Fourteenth. The Federal Government may tax property belonging to its citizens, even if such property is never situated within the jurisdiction of the United States,535 and it may tax the income of a citizen resident abroad, which is derived from property located at his residence.536 The difference is explained by the fact that protection of the Federal Government follows the citizen wherever he goes, whereas the benefits of state government accrue only to persons and property within the state’s borders. The Supreme Court has said that, in the absence of an equal protection clause, “a claim of unreasonable classification or inequality in the incidence or application of a tax raises no question under the Fifth Amendment. . . .”537 It has sustained, over charges of unfair differentiation between persons, a graduated income tax,538 a higher tax on oleomargarine than on butter,539 an excise tax on “puts” but not on “call,”540 a tax on the income of business operated by corporations but not on similar enterprises carried on by individuals,541 an income tax on foreign corporations, based on their income from sources within the United States, while domestic corporations were taxed on income from all sources,542 a tax on foreign-built but not upon domestic yachts,543 a tax on employers of eight or more persons, with exemptions for agricultural labor and domestic service,544 a gift tax law embodying a plan of graduations and exemptions under which donors of the same amount might be liable for different sums,545 an Alaska statute imposing license taxes only on nonresident fisherman,546 an act that taxed the manufacture of oil and fertilizer from herring at a higher rate than similar processing of other fish or fish offal,547 an excess profits tax that defined “invested capital” with reference to the original cost of the property rather than to its present value,548 an undistributed profits tax in the computation of which special credits were allowed to certain taxpayers,549 an estate tax upon the estate of a deceased spouse in respect of the moiety of the surviving spouse where the effect of the dissolution of the community is to enhance the value of the survivor’s moiety,550 and a tax on nonprofit mutual insurers, even though such insurers organized before a certain date were exempt, as there was a rational basis for the discrimination.551

Retroactive Taxes.

It has been customary from the begin-ning for Congress to give some retroactive effect to its tax laws, usually making them effective from the beginning of the tax year or from the date of introduction of the bill that became the law.552 Application of an income tax statute to the entire calendar year in which enactment took place has never, barring some peculiar circumstance, been deemed to deny due process.553 “Taxation is neither a penalty imposed on the taxpayer nor a liability which he assumes by contract. It is but a way of apportioning the cost of government among those who in some measure are privileged to enjoy its benefits and must bear its burdens. Since no citizen enjoys immunity from that burden, its retroactive imposition does not necessarily infringe due process, and to challenge the present tax it is not enough to point out that the taxable event, the receipt of income, antedated the statute.”554 A special income tax on profits realized by the sale of silver, retroactive for 35 days, which was approximately the period during which the silver purchase bill was before Congress, was held valid.555 An income tax law, made retroactive to the beginning of the calendar year in which it was adopted, was found constitutional as applied to the gain from the sale, shortly before its enactment, of property received as a gift during the year.556 Retroactive assessment of penalties for fraud or negligence,557 or of an additional tax on the income of a corporation used to avoid a surtax on its shareholder,558 does not deprive the tax-payer of property without due process of law.

An additional excise tax imposed upon property still held for sale, after one excise tax had been paid by a previous owner, does not violate the Due Process Clause.559 Similarly upheld were a transfer tax measured in part by the value of property held jointly by a husband and wife, including that which comes to the joint tenancy as a gift from the decedent spouse560 and the inclusion in the gross income of the settlor of income accruing to a revocable trust during any period when the settlor had power to revoke or modify it.561

Although the Court during the 1920s struck down gift taxes imposed retroactively upon gifts that were made and completely vested before the enactment of the taxing statute,562 those decisions have recently been distinguished, and their precedential value limited.563 In United States v. Carlton, the Court declared that “[t]he due process standard to be applied to tax statutes with retroactive effect . . . is the same as that generally applicable to retroactive economic legislation”—retroactive application of legislation must be shown to be “ ‘justified by a rational legislative purpose.’ ”564 Applying that principle, the Court upheld retroactive application of a 1987 amendment limiting application of a federal estate tax deduction originally enacted in 1986. Congress’s purpose was “neither illegitimate nor arbitrary,” the Court noted, since Congress had acted “to correct what it reasonably viewed as a mistake in the original 1986 provision that would have created a significant and unanticipated revenue loss.” Also, “Congress acted promptly and established only a modest period of retroactivity.” The fact that the taxpayer had transferred stock in reliance on the original enactment was not dispositive, since “[t]ax legislation is not a promise, and a taxpayer has no vested right in the Internal Revenue Code.”565

Deprivation of Property: Retroactive Legislation.

Federal regulation of future action, based upon rights previously acquired by the person regulated, is not prohibited by the Constitution. So long as the Constitution authorizes the subsequently enacted legislation, the fact that its provisions limit or interfere with previously acquired rights does not ordinarily condemn it. The imposition upon coal mine operators, and ultimately coal consumers, of the liability of compensating former employees, who had terminated work in the industry before passage of the law, for black lung disabilities contracted in the course of their work, was sustained by the Court as a rational measure to spread the costs of the employees’ disabilities to those who had profited from the fruits of their labor.566 Legislation readjusting rights and burdens is not unlawful solely because it upsets otherwise settled expectations, but it must take account of the realities previously existing, i.e., that the danger may not have been known or appreciated, or that actions might have been taken in reliance upon the current state of the law; therefore, legislation imposing liability on the basis of deterrence or of blameworthiness might not have passed muster. The Court has applied Turner Elkhorn in upholding retroactive application of pension plan termination provisions to cover the period of congressional consideration, declaring that the test for retroactive application of legislation adjusting economic burdens is merely whether “the retroactive application . . . is itself justified by a rational legislative purpose.”567

Rent regulations were sustained as applied to prevent execution of a judgment of eviction rendered by a state court before the enabling legislation was passed.568 For the reason that “those who do business in the regulated field cannot object if the legislative scheme is buttressed by subsequent amendments to achieve the legislative end,” no vested right to use housing, built with the aid of FHA mortgage insurance for transient purposes, was acquired by one obtaining insurance under an earlier section of the National Housing Act, which, though silent in this regard, was contemporaneously construed as barring rental to transients, and was later modified by an amendment that expressly excluded such use.569 An order by an Area Rent Director reducing an unapproved rental and requiring the landlord to refund the excess previously collected, was held, with one dissenting vote, not to be the type of retroactivity which is condemned by law.570 The application of a statute providing for tobacco marketing quotas, to a crop planted prior to its enactment, was held not to deprive the producers of property without due process of law, because it operated not upon production, but upon the marketing of the product after the act was passed.571

In the exercise of its comprehensive powers over revenue, finance, and currency, Congress may make Treasury notes legal tender in payment of debts previously contracted572 and may invalidate provisions in private contracts calling for payment in gold coin,573 but rights against the United States arising out of contract are more strongly protected by the Due Process Clause. Hence, a law purporting to abrogate a clause in government bonds calling for payment in gold coin was invalid,574 and a statute abrogating contracts of war risk insurance was held unconstitutional as applied to outstanding policies.575

The Due Process Clause has been successfully invoked to defeat retroactive invasion or destruction of property rights in a few cases. A revocation by the Secretary of the Interior of previous approval of plats and papers showing that a railroad was entitled to land under a grant was held void as an attempt to deprive the company of its property without due process of law.576 The exception of the period of federal control from the time limit set by law upon claims against carriers for damages caused by misrouting of goods, was read as prospective only because the limitation was an integral part of the liability, not merely a matter of remedy, and would violate the Fifth Amendment if retroactive.577

Bankruptcy Legislation.

In acting pursuant to its power to enact uniform bankruptcy legislation, Congress has regularly authorized retrospective impairment of contractual obligations,578 but the Due Process Clause (by itself or infused with takings principles) constitutes a limitation upon Congress’s power to deprive persons of more secure forms of property, such as the rights secured creditors have to obtain repayment of a debt. The Court had long followed a rule of construction favoring prospective-only application of bankruptcy laws, absent a clear showing of congressional intent,579 but it was not until 1935 that the Court actually held unconstitutional a retrospective law. Struck down by the Court was the Frazier-Lemke Act, which by its terms applied only retrospectively, and which authorized a court to stay proceedings for the foreclosure of a mortgage for five years, the debtor to remain in possession at a reasonable rental, with the option of purchasing the property at its appraised value at the end of the stay. The Act offended the Fifth Amendment, the Court held, because it deprived the creditor of substantial property rights acquired prior to the passage of the act.580 However, a modified law, under which the stay was subject to termination by the court and which continued the right of the creditor to have the property sold to pay the debt, was sustained.581

The sale of collateral under the terms of a contract may be enjoined without violating the Due Process Clause, if such sale would hinder the preparation or consummation of a proposed railroad reorganization, provided the injunction does no more than delay the enforcement of the contract.582 A provision that claims resulting from rejection of an unexpired lease should be treated as on a parity with provable debts, but limited to an amount equal to three years rent, was held not to amount to a taking of property without due process of law, since it provided a new and more certain remedy for a limited amount, in lieu of an existing remedy inefficient and uncertain in result.583 A right of redemption allowed by state law upon foreclosure of a mortgage was unavailing to defeat a plan for reorganization of a debtor corporation where the trial court found that the claims of junior lienholders had no value.584

Right to Sue the Government.

A right to sue the govern-ment on a contract is a privilege, not a property right protected by the Constitution.585 The right to sue for recovery of taxes paid may be conditioned upon an appeal to the Commissioner and his refusal to refund.586 There was no denial of due process when Congress took away the right to sue for recovery of taxes, where the claim for recovery was without substantial equity, having arisen from the mistake of administrative officials in allowing the statute of limitations to run before collecting a tax.587 The denial to taxpayers of the right to sue for refund of processing and floor stock taxes collected under a law subsequently held unconstitutional, and the substitution of a new administrative procedure for the recovery of such sums, was held valid.588 Congress may cut off the right to recover taxes illegally collected by ratifying their imposition and collection, where it could lawfully have authorized such exactions prior to their collection.589

Congressional Power to Abolish Common Law Judicial Actions.

Similarly, it is clearly settled that “[a] person has no prop-erty, no vested interest, in any rule of the common law.”590 It follows, therefore, that Congress in its discretion may abolish common-law actions, replacing them with other judicial actions or with administrative remedies at its discretion. There is slight intimation in some of the cases that if Congress does abolish a common law action it must either duplicate the recovery or provide a reasonable substitute remedy.591 Such a holding seems only remotely likely,592 but some difficulties may be experienced with respect to legislation that retrospectively affects rights to sue, such as shortening or lengthening statutes of limitation, and the like, although these have typically arisen in state contexts. In one decision, the Court sustained an award of additional compensation under the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, made pursuant to a private act of Congress passed after expiration of the period for review of the original award, directing the Commission to review the case and issue a new order, the challenge being made by the employer and insurer.593

Deprivation of Liberty: Economic Legislation.

The proscrip-tion of deprivation of liberty without due process, insofar as substantive due process was involved, was long restricted to invocation against legislation deemed to abridge liberty of contract.594 The two leading cases invalidating federal legislation, however, have both been overruled, as the Court adopted a very restrained standard of review of economic legislation.595 The Court’s hands-off policy with regard to reviewing economic legislation is quite pronounced.596


Solesbee v. Balkcom, 339 U.S. 9, 16 (1950) (Justice Frankfurter dissenting). Due process is violated if a practice or rule “offends some principle of justice so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental.” Snyder v. Massachusetts, 291 U.S. 97, 105 (1934). back
Jackman v. Rosenbaum Co., 260 U.S. 22, 31 (1922). back
Text and commentary on this chapter may be found in W. MC KECHNIE, MAGNA CARTA: A COMMENTARY ON THE GREAT CHARTER OF KING JOHN 375–95 (Glasgow, 2d rev. ed. 1914). The chapter became chapter 29 in the Third Reissue of Henry III in 1225. Id. at 504, and see 139–59. As expanded, it read: “No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or deprived of his freehold or his liberties or free customs, or outlawed or exiled, or in any manner destroyed, nor shall we come upon him or send against him, except by a legal judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” See also J. HOLT, MAGNA CARTA 226–29 (1965). The 1225 reissue also added to chapter 29 the language of chapter 40 of the original text: “To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice.” This 1225 reissue became the standard text thereafter. back
28 Edw. III, c. 3. See F. THOMPSON, MAGNA CARTA: ITS ROLE IN THE MAKING OF THE ENGLISH CONSTITUTION, 1300–1629, 86–97 (1948), recounting several statutory reconfirmations. Note that the limitation of “free man” had given way to the all-inclusive delineation. back
SIR EDWARD COKE, INSTITUTES OF THE LAWS OF ENGLAND, Part II, 50–51 (1641). For a review of the influence of Magna Carta and Coke on the colonies and the new nation, see, e.g., A. HOWARD, THE ROAD FROM RUNNYMEDE: MAGNA CARTA AND CONSTITUTIONALISM IN AMERICA (1968). back
The 1776 Constitution of Maryland, for example, in its declaration of rights, used the language of Magna Carta including the “law of the land” phrase in a separate article, 3 F. THORPE, THE FEDERAL AND STATE CONSTITUTIONS, H. Doc. No. 357, 59th Congress, 2d Sess. 1688 (1909), whereas Virginia used the clause in a section of guarantees of procedural rights in criminal cases. 7 id. at 3813. New York in its constitution of 1821 was the first state to pick up “due process of law” from the United States Constitution. 5 id. at 2648. back
Murray’s Lessee v. Hoboken Land & Improvement Co., 59 U.S. (18 How.) 272, 276 (1856). Webster had made the argument as counsel in Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 518 (1819). See also Chief Justice Shaw’s opinion in Jones v. Robbins, 74 Mass. (8 Gray) 329 (1857). back
Sinking Fund Cases, 99 U.S. 700, 719 (1879). back
Wong Wing v. United States, 163 U.S. 228, 238 (1896). back
United States v. Ju Toy, 198 U.S. 253, 263 (1905); cf. Quon Quon Poy v. Johnson, 273 U.S. 352 (1927). back
South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301, 323–24 (1966). back
Wight v. Davidson, 181 U.S. 371, 384 (1901). back
Lovato v. New Mexico, 242 U.S. 199, 201 (1916). back
Public Utility Comm’rs v. Ynchausti & Co., 251 U.S. 401, 406 (1920). back
Johnson v. Eisentrager, 339 U.S. 763 (1950); In re Yamashita, 327 U.S. 1 (1946). Justices Rutledge and Murphy in the latter case argued that the Due Process Clause applies to every human being, including enemy belligerents. back
Compare the remarks of Justices Chase and Iredell in Calder v. Bull, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 386, 388–89, 398–99 (1798). back
The full account is related in E. CORWIN, LIBERTY AGAINST GOVERNMENT ch. 3 (1948). The pathbreaking decision of the era was Wynhamer v. The People, 13 N.Y. 378 (1856). back
Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393, 450 (1857). back
French v. Barber Asphalt Paving Co., 181 U.S. 324, 328 (1901). back
Murray’s Lessee v. Hoboken Land and Improvement Co., 59 U.S. (18 How.) 272, 276–77, 280 (1856). The Court took a similar approach in Fourteenth Amendment due process interpretation in Davidson v. City of New Orleans, 96 U.S. 97 (1878), and Munn v. Illinois, 94 U.S. 113 (1877). back
Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. 516, 528–29 (1884). back
110 U.S. at 532, 535, 537. This flexible approach has been followed by the Court. E.g., Twining v. New Jersey, 211 U.S. 78 (1908); Powell v. Alabama, 287 U.S. 45 (1932); Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319 (1937); Snyder v. Massachusetts, 291 U.S. 97 (1934). back
Davidson v. City of New Orleans, 96 U.S. 97, 102 (1878); Public Clearing House v. Coyne, 194 U.S. 497, 508 (1904). back
Ex parte Wall, 107 U.S. 265, 289 (1883). back
Compare Murray’s Lessee v. Hoboken Land & Improvement Co., 59 U.S. (18 How.) 272 (1856), with Ng Fung Ho v. White, 259 U.S. 276 (1922). back
Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Comm. v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123 (1951) (Justice Frankfurter concurring). back
Opp Cotton Mills v. Administrator, 312 U.S. 126, 152, 153 (1941). back
321 U.S. 503, 521 (1944). back
Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197 (1938). back
Central of Georgia Ry. v. Wright, 207 U.S. 127 (1907); Lipke v. Lederer, 259 U.S. 557 (1922). back
Phillips v. Commissioner, 283 U.S. 589 (1931). Cf. Springer v. United States, 102 U.S. 586, 593 (1881); Passavant v. United States, 148 U.S. 214 (1893). The collection of taxes is, however, very nearly a wholly unique area. See Perez v. Ledesma, 401 U.S. 82, 127 n.17 (1971) (Justice Brennan concurring in part and dissenting in part). On the limitations on private prejudgment collection, see Sniadach v. Family Finance Corp., 395 U.S. 337 (1969). back
Wong Yang Sung v. McGrath, 339 U.S. 33, 50 (1950). But see Arnett v. Kennedy, 416 U.S. 134, 170 n.5 (Justice Powell), 196–99 (Justice White) (1974) (hearing before probably partial officer at pretermination stage). back
Margan v. United States, 304 U.S. 1, 18–19 (1938). The Court has experienced some difficulty with application of this principle to administrative hearings and subsequent review in selective service cases. Compare Gonzales v. United States, 348 U.S. 407 (1955) (conscientious objector contesting his classification before appeals board must be furnished copy of recommendation submitted by Department of Justice; only by being appraised of the arguments and conclusions upon which recommendations were based would he be enabled to present his case effectively), with United States v. Nugent, 346 U.S. 1 (1953) (in auxiliary hearing that culminated in a Justice Department report and recommendation, it is sufficient that registrant be provided with resume of adverse evidence in FBI report because the “imperative needs of mobilization and national vigilance” mandate a minimum of “litigious interruption”), and Gonzales v. United States, 364 U.S. 59 (1960) (five-to-four decision finding no due process violation when petitioner (1) at departmental proceedings was not permitted to rebut statements attributed to him by his local board, because the statements were in his file and he had opportunity to rebut both before hearing officer and appeal board, nor (2) at trial was denied access to hearing officer’s notes and report, because he failed to show any need and did have Department recommendations). back
NLRB v. Mackay Radio & Tel. Co., 304 U.S. 333, 349–50 (1938). back
Western Chem. Co. v. United States, 271 U.S. 268 (1926). See also United States v. Abilene & So. Ry., 265 U.S. 274, 288 (1924). back
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389 (1971). back
Londoner v. Denver, 210 U.S. 373 (1908). back
FCC v. WJR, 337 U.S. 265, 274–77 (1949). See also Inland Empire Council v. Millis, 325 U.S. 697, 710 (1945). See Administrative Procedure Act, 60 Stat. 237 (1946), 5 U.S.C §§ 10011011. Cf. Link v. Wabash R.R., 370 U.S. 626, 637, 646 (1962), in which the majority rejected Justice Black’s dissenting thesis that the dismissal with prejudice of a damage suit without notice to the client and grounded upon the dilatory tactics of his attorney, and the latter’s failure to appear at a pre-trial conference, amounted to a taking of property without due process of law. back
Cafeteria & Restaurant Workers v. McElroy, 367 U.S. 886 (1961). Four dissenters, Justices Brennan, Black, Douglas, and Chief Justice Warren, emphasized the inconsistency between the Court’s acknowledgment that the cook had a right not to have her entry badge taken away for arbitrary reasons, and its rejection of her right to be told in detail the reasons for such action. The case has subsequently been cited as involving an “extraordinary situation.” Boddie v. Connecticut, 401 U.S. 371, 379 (1971); Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254, 264 n.10 (1970). Manifesting a disposition to adjudicate on non-constitutional grounds dismissals of employees under the Federal Loyalty Program, the Court, in Peters v. Hobby, 349 U.S. 331 (1955), invalidated, as in excess of its delegated authority, a finding of reasonable doubt as to the loyalty of the petitioner by a Loyalty Review Board which, on its own initiative, reopened his case after he had twice been cleared by his Agency Loyalty Board, and arrived at its conclusion on the basis of adverse information not offered under oath and supplied by informants, not all of whom were known to the Review Board and none of whom was disclosed to petitioner for cross-examination by him. The Board was found not to possess any power to review on its own initiative. Concurring, Justices Douglas and Black condemned as irreconcilable with due process and fair play the use of faceless informers whom the petitioner is unable to confront and cross-examine. In Cole v. Young, 351 U.S. 536 (1956), also decided on the basis of statutory interpretation, there is an intimation that grave due process issues would be raised by the application to federal employees, not occupying sensitive positions, of a measure which authorized, in the interest of national security, summary suspensions and unreviewable dismissals of allegedly disloyal employees by agency heads. In Service v. Dulles, 354 U.S. 363 (1957), and Vitarelli v. Seaton, 359 U.S. 535 (1959), the Court nullified dismissals for security reasons by invoking an established rule of administrative law to the effect that an administrator must comply with procedures outlined in applicable agency regulations, notwithstanding that such regulations conform to more rigorous substantive and procedural standards than are required by Congress or that the agency action is discretionary in nature. In both of the last cited decisions, dismissals of employees as security risks were set aside by reason of the failure of the employing agency to conform the dismissal to its established security regulations. See Accardi v. Shaughnessy, 347 U.S. 260 (1954). Again avoiding constitutional issues, the Court, in Greene v. McElroy, 360 U.S. 474 (1959), invalidated the security clearance procedure required of defense contractors by the Defense Department as being unauthorized either by law or presidential order. However, the Court suggested that it would condemn, on grounds of denial of due process, any enactment or Executive Order which sanctioned a comparable department security clearance program, under which a defense contractor’s employee could have his security clearance revoked without a hearing at which he had the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses. Justices Frankfurter, Harlan, and Whit-taker concurred without passing on the validity of such procedure, if authorized. Justice Clark dissented. See also the dissenting opinions of Justices Douglas and Black in Beard v. Stahr, 370 U.S. 41, 43 (1962), and in Williams v. Zuckert, 371 U.S. 531, 533 (1963). back
363 U.S. 420, 493, 499 (1960). Justices Douglas and Black dissented on the ground that when the Commission summons a person accused of violating a federal election law with a view to ascertaining whether the accusation may be sustained, it acts in lieu of a grand jury or a committing magistrate, and therefore should be obligated to afford witnesses the procedural protection herein denied. Congress subsequently amended the law to require that any person who is defamed, degraded, or incriminated by evidence or testimony presented to the Commission be afforded the opportunity to appear and be heard in executive session, with a reasonable number of additional witnesses requested by him, before the Commission can make public such evidence or testimony. Further, any such person, before the evidence or testimony is released, must be afforded an opportunity to appear publicly to state his side and to file verified statements with the Commission which it must release with any report or other document containing defaming, degrading, or incriminating evidence or testimony. Pub. L. 91–521, § 4, 84 Stat. 1357 (1970), 42 U.S.C. § 1975a(e). Cf. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411 (1969). back
See discussion under Art. I, § 8, cl. 4, The Power of Congress to Exclude Aliens. back
United States v. Ju Toy, 198 U.S. 253, 263 (1905). See also The Japanese Immigrant Case (Yamataya v. Fisher), 189 U.S. 86 (1903). Cf. United States ex rel. Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 U.S. 537 (1950). back
Shaughnessy v. United States ex rel. Mezei, 345 U.S. 206 (1953). The long continued detention on Ellis Island of a non-deportable alien does not change his status or give rise to any right of judicial review. In dissent, Justices Black and Douglas maintained that the protracted confinement on Ellis Island without a hearing could not be reconciled with due process. Also dissenting, Justices Frankfurter and Jackson contended that when indefinite commitment on Ellis Island becomes the means of enforcing exclusion, due process requires that a hearing precede such deprivation of liberty. Cf. Kwong Hai Chew v. Colding, 344 U.S. 590, 596 (1953), in which the Court, after acknowledging that resident aliens held for deportation are entitled to procedural due process, ruled that as a matter of law the Attorney General must accord notice of the charges and a hearing to a resident alien seaman who is sought to be “expelled” upon his return from a voyage overseas. Knauff was distinguished on the ground that the seaman’s status was not that of an entrant, but rather that of a resident alien. See also Leng May Ma v. Barber, 357 U.S. 185 (1958). back
Oceanic Navigation Co. v. Stranahan, 214 U.S. 320 (1909). back
Kwock Jan Fat v. White, 253 U.S. 454, 457 (1920). See also Chin Yow v. United States, 208 U.S. 8 (1908). back
United States v. Sing Tuck, 194 U.S. 161 (1904). See also Quon Quon Poy v. Johnson, 273 U.S. 352, 358 (1927). back
See Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753, 762 (1972) (apparently recognizing that citizens’ First Amendment rights were affected by the denial of a nonimmigrant visa to a Marxist journalist who had been invited to speak in the United States); See also Kerry v. Din, 576 U.S. ___, No. 13–1402, slip op. (2015) (plurality and concurring opinions, taken together, suggesting that at least a majority of the Court accepts that Kleindienst allows U.S. citizens to challenge visa denials that affect other rights beyond their First Amendment rights); cf. Trump v. Int’l Refugee Assistance Project, 582 U.S. ___, No. 16–1436, slip op. at 11 (noting that “foreign nationals abroad who have no connection to the United States at all” can be denied entry as such a denial does not “impose any legally relevant hardship” on the foreign nationals themselves). back
See, e.g., Am. Acad. of Religion v. Napolitano, 573 F.3d 115, 117 (2d Cir. 2009) (“The Supreme Court has recognized a First Amendment right to ‘hear, speak, and debate with’ a visa applicant.”); Adams v. Baker, 909 F.2d 643, 647 n.3 (1st Cir. 1990) (“[I]t is important to recognize that the only issue which may be addressed by this court is the possibility of impairment of United States citizens’ First Amendment rights through the exclusion of the alien.”); Abourezk v. Reagan, 785 F.2d 1043, 1063 n.1 (D.C. Cir. 1986) (noting that the government defendants had “concede[d] that the Supreme Court has already implicitly decided the issue of whether plaintiffs who wish to meet with excluded aliens have standing to raise a constitutional (first amendment) claim”) (Bork, J., dissenting). back
See, e.g., Bustamante v. Mukasey, 531 F.3d 1059, 1062 (9th Cir. 2008). back
576 U.S. ___, No. 13–1402, slip op. (2015). back
Id. at 5–6 (Scalia, J., joined by Roberts, C.J. & Thomas, J.) (plurality opinion). According to the plurality, the U.S. citizen spouse’s alleged interests had been variously formulated as a “liberty interest in her marriage”; a “right of association with one’s spouse”; a “liberty interest in being reunited with certain blood relatives”; and the “liberty interest of a U.S. citizen under the Due Process Clause to be free from arbitrary restrictions on his right to live with his spouse.” Id. at 7. The plurality also expressly noted that no fundamental right to marriage, as such, had been infringed, because “the Federal Government has not attempted to forbid a marriage.” Id. (contrasting the case at hand with Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967)). back
Id. at 6. The plurality took issue with the dissenting Justices’ view that procedural due process rights attach to liberty interests that are not created by nonconstitutional law, such as a statute, but are “sufficiently important” so as to “flow ‘implicit[ly]’ from the design, object, and nature of the Due Process Clause.” Id. at 11. According to the plurality, this view is a “novel” one that is inconsistent with the Court’s established methodology for identifying fundamental rights that are subject to protection under the Due Process Clause. Id. at 12. back
Id. at 3 (Kennedy, J., concurring, joined by Alito, J.). back
Harisiades v. Shaughnessy, 342 U.S. 580 (1952). But this fact does not mean that a person may be deported on the basis of judgment reached on the civil standard of proof, that is, by a preponderance of the evidence. Rather, the Court has held, a deportation order may only be entered if it is found by clear, unequivocal, and convincing evidence that the facts alleged as grounds for deportation are true. Woodby v. INS, 385 U.S. 276 (1966). Woodby, and similar rulings, were the result of statutory interpretation and were not constitutionally compelled. Vance v. Terrazas, 444 U.S. 252, 266–67 (1980). back
Zakonaite v. Wolf, 226 U.S. 272 (1912). See Jay v. Boyd, 351 U.S. 345 (1956), in which the Court emphasized that suspension of deportation is not a matter of right, but of grace, like probation or parole, and, accordingly, an alien is not entitled to a hearing that contemplates full disclosure of the considerations (information of a confidential nature pertaining to national security) that induced administrative officers to deny suspension. In four dissenting opinions, Chief Justice Warren, together with Justices Black, Frankfurter, and Douglas, found irreconcilable with a fair hearing and due process the delegation by the Attorney General of his discretion to an inferior officer and the vesting of the latter with power to deny a suspension on the basis of undisclosed evidence that may constitute no more than uncorroborated hearsay. back
339 U.S. 33 (1950). See also Kimm v. Rosenberg, 363 U.S. 405, 408, 410, 415 (1960), in which the Court ruled that when, at a hearing on his petition for suspension of a deportation order, an alien invoked the Fifth Amendment in response to questions as to Communist Party membership and contended that the burden of proving such affiliation was on the government, it was incumbent on the alien to supply the information, as the government had no statutory discretion to suspend deportation of a Communist. Justices Douglas, Black, Brennan, and Chief Justice Warren dissented on the ground that exercise of the privilege is a neutral act, supporting neither innocence nor guilt and may not be used as evidence of dubious character. Justice Brennan also thought the government was requiring the alien to prove non-membership when no one had intimated that he was a Communist. back
5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq. back
Vajtauer v. Commissioner of Immigration, 273 U.S. 103, 106 (1927). See also Mahler v. Eby, 264 U.S. 32, 41 (1924). Although, in Heikkila v. Barber, 345 U.S. 229 (1953), the Court held that a deportation order under the Immigration Act of 1917 might be challenged only by habeas corpus, in Shaughnessy v. Pedreiro, 349 U.S. 48 (1955), it established that, under the Immigration Act of 1952, 8 U.S.C. § 1101, the validity of a deportation order also may be contested in an action for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. Also, a collateral challenge must be permitted to the use of a deportation proceeding as an element of a criminal offense where effective judicial review of the deportation order has been denied. United States v. Mendoza-Lopez, 481 U.S. 828 (1987). back
198 U.S. 253 (1905). back
Ng Fung Ho v. White, 259 U.S. 276, 281 (1922). back
Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 690–91 (2001) (construing a statute so as to avoid a “serious constitutional problem,” id. at 699, and recognizing a “presumptively reasonable” detention period of six months for removable aliens). back
538 U.S. 510 (2003). The goal of detention in Zadvydas had been found to be “no longer practically attainable,” and detention therefore “no longer [bore] a reasonable relation to the purpose for which the individual was committed.” 538 U.S. at 527. back
538 U.S. at 528. There was disagreement among the Justices as to whether existing procedures afforded the alien an opportunity for individualized determination of danger to society and risk of flight. back
Ludecke v. Watkins, 335 U.S. 160 (1948). Three of the four dissenting Justices, Douglas, Murphy, and Rutledge, argued that even an enemy alien could not be deported without a fair hearing. back
298 U.S. 38 (1936). back
298 U.S. at 51–54. Justices Brandeis, Stone, and Cardozo, although concurring in the result, took exception to this proposition. back
FPC v. Hope Natural Gas Co., 320 U.S. 591 (1944); FPC v. Natural Gas Pipeline Co., 315 U.S. 575, 586 (1941). back
FPC v. Hope Natural Gas Co., 320 U.S. 591, 602 (1944). back
327 U.S. 1 (1946). back
339 U.S. 763 (1950). Justices Douglas, Black, and Burton dissented. back
542 U.S. 507 (2004). back
In response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Congress passed the “Authorization for Use of Military Force,” Pub. L. 107–40, which served as the basis for military action against the Taliban government of Afghanistan and the al Qaeda forces that were harbored there. back
There was no opinion of the Court in Hamdi. Rather, a plurality opinion, authored by Justice O’Connor (joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist, Justice Kennedy and Justice Breyer) relied on the “Authorization for Use of Military Force” passed by Congress to support the detention. Justice Thomas also found that the Executive Branch had the power to detain the petitioner, but he based his conclusion on Article II of the Constitution. back
542 U.S. at 533, 539 (2004). Although only a plurality of the Court voted for both continued detention of the petitioner and for providing these due process rights, four other Justices would have extended due process at least this far. Justice Souter, joined by Justice Ginsberg, while rejecting the argument that Congress had authorized such detention, agreed with the plurality as to the requirement of providing minimal due process. Id. at 553 (concurring in part, dissenting in part, and concurring in judgement). Justice Scalia, joined by Justice Stevens, denied that such congressional authorization was possible without a suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, and thus would have required a criminal prosecution of the petitioner. Id. at 554 (dissenting). back
339 U.S. 103 (1950). back
339 U.S. at 111. back
346 U.S. 137 (1953). back
367 U.S. 497, 540, 541 (1961). The internal quotation is from Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. 516, 532 (1884). Development of substantive due process is briefly noted above under “Scope of the Guaranty” and is treated more extensively under the Fourteenth Amendment. back
Detroit Bank v. United States, 317 U.S. 329, 337 (1943); Helvering v. Lerner Stores Corp., 314 U.S. 463, 468 (1941). back
Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 93 (1976); Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, 420 U.S. 636, 638 n.2 (1975); Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200, 214–18 (1995). back
Steward Machine Co. v. Davis, 301 U.S. 548, 585 (1937). See also Currin v. Wallace, 306 U.S. 1, 13–14 (1939). back
Truax v. Corrigan, 257 U.S. 312, 331 (1921). See also Hirabayashi v. United States, 320 U.S. 81, 100 (1943). back
347 U.S. 497, 499–500 (1954). back
347 U.S. 483 (1954). With respect to race discrimination, the Court had earlier utilized its supervisory authority over the lower federal courts and its power to construe statutes to reach results it might have based on the Equal Protection Clause if the cases had come from the states. E.g., Hurd v. Hodge, 334 U.S. 24 (1948); Steele v. Louisville & Nashville R.R., 323 U.S. 192 (1944); Railroad Trainmen v. Howard, 343 U.S. 768 (1952). See also Thiel v. Southern Pacific Co., 328 U.S. 217 (1946). back
Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973); Califano v. Goldfarb, 430 U.S. 199 (1977). But see Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57 (1981); Califano v. Jobst, 434 U.S. 47 (1977). back
Compare Jiminez v. Weinberger, 417 U.S. 628 (1974), with Mathews v. Lucas, 427 U.S. 495 (1976). back
Department of Agriculture v. Murry, 413 U.S. 508 (1973). See also Department of Agriculture v. Moreno, 413 U.S. 528 (1973). back
Richardson v. Belcher, 404 U.S. 78, 81 (1971); FCC v. Beach Communications, 508 U.S. 307 (1993) (exemption from cable TV regulation of facilities that serve only dwelling units under common ownership); Lyng v. Castillo, 477 U.S. 635 (1986) (Food Stamp Act limitation of benefits to households of related persons who prepare meals together). With respect to courts and criminal legislation, see Hurtado v. United States, 410 U.S. 578 (1973); Marshall v. United States, 414 U.S. 417 (1974); United States v. MacCollom, 426 U.S. 317 (1976). back
Hill v. United States ex rel. Weiner, 300 U.S. 105, 109 (1937). See also District of Columbia v. Brooke, 214 U.S. 138 (1909); Panama R.R. v. Johnson, 264 U.S. 375 (1924); Detroit Bank v. United States, 317 U.S. 329 (1943). back
Johnson v. Robison, 415 U.S. 361 (1974). See also Schlesinger v. Ballard, 419 U.S. 498 (1975) (military law that classified men more adversely than women deemed rational because it had the effect of compensating for prior discrimination against women). Wayte v. United States, 470 U.S. 598 (1985) (selective prosecution of persons who turned themselves in or were reported by others as having failed to register for the draft does not deny equal protection, there being no showing that these men were selected for prosecution because of their protest activities). back
Hampton v. Mow Sun Wong, 426 U.S. 88, 100 (1976). For example, the power to regulate immigration has permitted the federal government to discriminate on the basis of alienage, at least so long as the discrimination satisfies the rational basis standard of review. See Mathews v. Diaz, 426 U.S. 67, 79–80, 83 (1976) (holding that federal conditions upon alien eligibility for public assistance were not “wholly irrational,” and observing that “[in] the exercise of its broad power over naturalization and immigration, Congress regularly makes rules that would be unacceptable if applied to citizens . . . The fact that an Act of Congress treats aliens differently from citizens does not in itself imply that such disparate treatment is ‘invidious.’”). Nonetheless, with regard to statutes that touch upon immigration-related matters but do not address the entry or exclusion of aliens, the Court has suggested that if such a law discriminates on the basis of suspect factors other than alienage or national origin a more “exacting standard of review” may be required. See Sessions v. Morales-Santana, 582 U.S. ___, No. 15–1191, slip op. 14–17 (2017) (distinguishing between immigration and citizenship contexts, and applying heightened scrutiny to hold that a derivative citizenship statute which discriminated by gender violated equal protection principles). back
United States v. New York S.S. Co., 269 U.S. 304 (1925). back
United States v. Carolene Products Co., 304 U.S. 144 (1938); Carolene Products Co. v. United States, 323 U.S. 18 (1944). back
Kentucky Whip & Collar Co. v. Illinois Cent. R.R., 299 U.S. 334 (1937). back
E.g., Virginian Ry. v. System Federation No. 40, 300 U.S. 515 (1937); NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U.S. 1 (1937); Railway Employes’ Dep’t v. Hanson, 351 U.S. 225 (1956); NLRB v. Stowe Spinning Co., 336 U.S. 226 (1949); NLRB v. Mackay Radio & Tel. Co., 304 U.S. 333 (1938). back
Ex parte Jackson, 96 U.S. 727 (1878); Rowan v. Post Office Dep’t, 397 U.S. 728 (1970). back
St. Joseph Stock Yards Co. v. United States, 298 U.S. 38 (1936); Denver Union Stock Yards Co. v. United States, 304 U.S. 470 (1938). back
320 U.S. 591 (1944). The result of this case had been foreshadowed by the opinion of Justice Stone in FPC v. Natural Gas Pipeline Co., 315 U.S. 575, 586 (1942), to the effect that the Commission was not bound to use any single formula or combination of formulas in determining rates. back
A. T. & T. Co. v. United States, 299 U.S. 232 (1936); United States v. Ne w York Tel. Co., 326 U.S. 638 (1946); Northwestern Co. v. FPC, 321 U.S. 119 (1944). back
Valvoline Oil Co. v. United States, 308 U.S. 141 (1939); Champlin Rfg. Co. v. United States, 329 U.S. 29 (1946). back
Isbrandtsen-Moller Co. v. United States, 300 U.S. 146 (1937). back
St. Louis S.W. Ry. v. United States, 245 U.S. 136, 143 (1917). back
New England Divisions Case, 261 U.S. 184 (1923). back
Dayton-Goose Creek Ry. v. United States, 263 U.S. 456, 481, 483 (1924). back
Chicago, I. & L. Ry. v. United States, 270 U.S. 287 (1926). Cf. Seaboard Air Line Ry. v. United States, 254 U.S. 57 (1920). back
Assigned Car Cases, 274 U.S. 564, 575 (1927). back
United States v. Delaware & Hudson Co., 213 U.S. 366, 405, 411, 415 (1909). back
United States v. Lowden, 308 U.S. 225 (1939). back
Louisville & Nashville R.R. v. Mottley, 219 U.S. 467 (1911). back
Baltimore & Ohio R.R. v. United States, 345 U.S. 146 (1953). back
Chicago, R.I. & P. Ry. v. United States, 284 U.S. 80 (1931). back
Railroad Retirement Bd. v. Alton R.R., 295 U.S. 330 (1935). But cf. Usery v. Turner Elkhorn Mining Co., 428 U.S. 1, 19 (1976). back
United States v. Bennett, 232 U.S. 299, 307 (1914). back
Cook v. Tait, 265 U.S. 47 (1924). back
Helvering v. Lerner Stores Co., 314 U.S. 463, 468 (1941). But see discussion of “Discrimination” supra. back
Brushaber v. Union Pac. R.R, 240 U.S. 1, 24 (1916). back
McCray v. United States, 195 U.S. 27, 61 (1904). back
Treat v. White, 181 U.S. 264 (1901). back
Flint v. Stone Tracy Co., 220 U.S. 107 (1911). back
National Paper Co. v. Bowers, 266 U.S. 373 (1924). back
Billings v. United States, 232 U.S. 261, 282 (1914). back
Steward Machine Co. v. Davis, 301 U.S. 548 (1937); Helvering v. Davis, 301 U.S. 619 (1937). back
Bromley v. McCaughn, 280 U.S. 124 (1929). back
Haavik v. Alaska Packers Ass’n, 263 U.S. 510 (1924). back
Alaska Fish Co. v. Smith, 255 U.S. 44 (1921). back
LaBelle Iron Works v. United States, 256 U.S. 377 (1921). back
Helvering v. Northwest Steel Mills, 311 U.S. 46 (1940). back
Fernandez v. Wiener, 326 U.S. 340 (1945); cf. Coolidge v. Long, 282 U.S. 582 (1931). back
United States v. Maryland Savings-Share Ins. Corp., 400 U.S. 4 (1970) (per curiam). back
United States v. Darusmont, 449 U.S. 292, 296–97 (1981). back
Stockdale v. Insurance Companies, 87 U.S. (20 Wall.) 323, 331, 332 (1874); Brushaber v. Union Pac. R.R., 240 U.S. 1, 20 (1916); Cooper v. United States, 280 U.S. 409, 411 (1930); Milliken v. United States, 283 U.S. 15, 21 (1931); Reinecke v. Smith, 289 U.S. 172, 175 (1933); United States v. Hudson, 299 U.S. 498, 500–01 (1937); Welch v. Henry, 305 U.S. 134, 146, 148–50 (1938); Fernandez v. Wiener, 326 U.S. 340, 355 (1945); United States v. Darusmont, 449 U.S. 292, 297 (1981). back
Welch v. Henry, 305 U.S. 134, 146–47 (1938). back
United States v. Hudson, 299 U.S. 498 (1937). See also Stockdale v. Insurance Companies, 87 U.S. (20 Wall.) 323, 331, 341 (1874); Brushaber v. Union Pac. R.R., 240 U.S. 1, 20 (1916); Lynch v. Hornby, 247 U.S. 339, 343 (1918). back
Cooper v. United States, 280 U.S. 409 (1930); see also Reinecke v. Smith, 289 U.S. 172 (1933). back
Helvering v. Mitchell, 303 U.S. 391 (1938). back
Helvering v. National Grocery Co., 304 U.S. 282 (1938). back
Patton v. Brady, 184 U.S. 608 (1902). back
Tyler v. United States, 281 U.S. 497 (1930); United States v. Jacobs, 306 U.S. 363 (1939). back
Reinecke v. Smith, 289 U.S. 172 (1933). back
Untermyer v. Anderson, 276 U.S. 440 (1928); Blodgett v. Holden, 275 U.S. 142 (1927), modified, 276 U.S. 594 (1928); Nichols v. Coolidge, 274 U.S. 531 (1927). See also Heiner v. Donnan, 285 U.S. 312 (1932) (invalidating as arbitrary and capricious a conclusive presumption that gifts made within two years of death were made in contemplation of death). back
Untermyer was distinguished in United States v. Hemme, 476 U.S. 558, 568 (1986), upholding retroactive application of unified estate and gift taxation to a tax-payer as to whom the overall impact was minimal and not oppressive. All three cases were distinguished in United States v. Carlton, 512 U.S. 26, 30 (1994), as having been “decided during an era characterized by exacting review of economic legislation under an approach that ‘has long since been discarded.’ ” The Court noted further that Untermyer and Blodgett had been limited to situations involving creation of a wholly new tax, and that Nichols had involved a retroactivity period of 12 years. Id. back
512 U.S. 26, 30, 31 (1994) (quoting Usery v. Turner Elkhorn Mining Co., 428 U.S. 1, 16–17 (1976)). These principles apply to estate and gift taxes as well as to income taxes, the Court added. 512 U.S. at 34. back
512 U.S. at 33. back
Usery v. Turner Elkhorn Mining Co., 428 U.S. 1, 14–20 (1976). But see id. at 38 (Justice Powell concurring) (questioning application of retroactive cost-spreading). back
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. v. R.A. Gray & Co., 467 U.S. 717, 730 (1984). Accord, United States v. Sperry Corp., 493 U.S. 52, 65 (1989) (upholding imposition of user fee on claimants paid by Iran-United States Claims Tribunal prior to enactment of fee statute). Concrete Pipe & Products v. Construction Laborers Pension Trust, 508 U.S. 602, 636–41 (1993) (imposition of multiemployer pension plan withdrawal liability on an employer is not irrational, even though none of its employees had earned vested benefits by the time of withdrawal). In Eastern Enterprises v. Apfel, 524 U.S. 498 (1998), the challenge was to a statutory requirement that companies formerly engaged in mining pay miner retiree health benefits, as applied to a company that had placed its mining operations in a wholly owned subsidiary three decades earlier, before labor agreements included an express promise of lifetime benefits. In a fractured opinion, the justices ruled 5–4 that the scheme’s severe retroactive effect offended the Constitution, though differing on the governing clause. Four of the majority justices based the judgment solely on takings law, while opining that “there is a question” whether the statute violated due process as well. The remaining majority justice, and the four dissenters, viewed substantive due process as the sole appropriate framework for resolving the case, but disagreed on whether a violation had occurred. back
Fleming v. Rhodes, 331 U.S. 100, 107 (1947). back
FHA v. The Darlington, Inc., 358 U.S. 84, 89–91, 92–93 (1958). Dissenting, Justices Harlan, Frankfurter, and Whittaker maintained that under the Due Process Clause the United States, in its contractual relations, is bound by the same rules as private individuals unless the action taken falls within the general federal regulatory power. back
Woods v. Stone, 333 U.S. 472 (1948). back
Mulford v. Smith, 307 U.S. 38 (1939). An increase in the penalty for production of wheat in excess of quota was valid as applied retroactively to wheat already planted, where Congress concurrently authorized a substantial increase in the amount of the loan that might be made to cooperating farmers upon stored “farm marketing excess wheat.” Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111, 133 (1942). back
Legal Tender Cases (Knox v. Lee), 79 U.S. (12 Wall.) 457, 551 (1871). back
Norman v. Baltimore & O R.R., 294 U.S. 240 (1935). back
Perry v. United States, 294 U.S. 330 (1935). back
Lynch v. United States, 292 U.S. 571 (1934). See also De La Rama S.S. Co. v. United States, 344 U.S. 386 (1953). Notice that these kinds of cases are precisely the ones that would be condemned under the Contract Clause, even under the relaxed scrutiny now employed, if the action were taken by a state. E.g., United States Trust Co. v. New Jersey, 431 U.S. 1 (1977). “Less searching standards” are imposed by the Due Process Clauses than by the Contract Clause. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. v. R.A. Gray & Co., 467 U.S. 717, 733 (1984). Also, statutory reservation of the right to amend an agreement can defuse most such constitutional issues. Bowen v. Public Agencies Opposed to Social Security Entrapment, 477 U.S. 41 (1986) (amendment of Social Security Act to prevent termination by state when termination notice already filed). The Court has addressed similar issues under breach of contract theory. United States v. Winstar Corp., 518 U.S. 839 (1996). back
Noble v. Union River Logging R.R., 147 U.S. 165 (1893). back
Danzer Co. v. Gulf R.R., 268 U.S. 633 (1925). back
E.g., Hanover National Bank v. Moyses, 186 U.S. 181, 188 (1902); Continental Illinois Nat’l Bank & Trust Co. v. Chicago, R.I. & P. Ry., 294 U.S. 648, 673–75 (1935). back
Holt v. Henley, 232 U.S. 637, 639–40 (1914). See also Auffm’ordt v. Rasin, 102 U.S. 620, 622 (1881). back
Louisville Joint Stock Land Bank v. Radford, 295 U.S. 555 (1935). back
Wright v. Vinton Branch, 300 U.S. 440 (1937). The relatively small modifications that the Court accepted as making the difference in validity, and the fact that subsequently the Court interpreted the statute so as to make smaller the modifications, John Hancock Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Bartels, 308 U.S. 180, 184 & n.3 (1939); Wright v. Union Central Ins. Co., 311 U.S. 273, 278–79 (1940), has created differences of opinion with respect to whether Radford remains sound law. Cf. Helvering v. Griffiths, 318 U.S. 371, 400–01 & n.52 (1943) (suggesting Radford might not have survived Vinton Branch). back
Continental Illinois Nat’l Bank & Trust Co. v. Chicago, R.I. & P. Ry., 294 U.S. 648 (1935). back
Kuchner v. Irving Trust Co., 299 U.S. 445 (1937). back
In re 620 Church Street Corp., 299 U.S. 24 (1936). In the context of Congress’s plan to save major railroad systems, see Regional Rail Reorganization Act Cases, 419 U.S. 102 (1974). back
Lynch v. United States, 292 U.S. 571, 581 (1934). back
Dodge v. Osborn, 240 U.S. 118 (1916). back
Graham & Foster v. Goodcell, 282 U.S. 409 (1931). back
Anniston Mfg. Co. v. Davis, 301 U.S. 337 (1937). back
United States v. Heinszen & Co., 206 U.S. 370, 386 (1907). back
Second Employers’’ Liability Cases, 223 U.S. 1, 50 (1912). See also Silver v. Silver, 280 U.S. 117, 122 (1929) (a state case). back
The intimation stems from New York Cent. R.R. v. White, 243 U.S. 188 (1917) (a state case, involving the constitutionality of a workmen’s compensation law). While denying any person’s vested interest in the continuation of any particular right to sue, id. at 198, the Court did seem twice to suggest that abolition without a reasonable substitute would raise due process problems. Id. at 201. In Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Envtl. Study Group, 438 U.S. 59, 87–92 (1978), it noticed the contention but passed it by because the law at issue was a reasonable substitute. back
It is more likely with respect to congressional provision of a statutory substitute for a cause of action arising directly out of a constitutional guarantee. E.g., Carlson v. Green, 446 U.S. 14, 18–23 (1980). back
Paramino Co. v. Marshall, 309 U.S. 370 (1940). back
See “Liberty of Contract” heading under Fourteenth Amendment, infra. back
Adair v. United States, 208 U.S. 161 (1908), overruled in substance by Phelps Dodge Corp. v. NLRB, 313 U.S. 177 (1941); Adkins v. Children’s Hospital, 261 U.S. 525 (1923), overruled by West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, 300 U.S. 379 (1937). back
E.g., United States Railroad Retirement Bd. v. Fritz, 449 U.S. 166 (1980); Schweiker v. Wilson, 450 U.S. 221 (1981). back