ArtI.S8.C7.4 Exclusive Power Over Post Offices as an Adjunct to Other Powers

Article I, Section 8, Clause 7:

[The Congress shall have Power . . . ] To establish Post Offices and post Roads; . . .

Cases such as Lamont v. Postmaster General,1 involved attempts to close the mails to communications that were deemed to be harmful. A much broader power of exclusion was asserted in the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935.2 To induce compliance with the regulatory requirements of that act, Congress denied the privilege of using the mails for any purpose to holding companies that failed to obey that law, irrespective of the character of the material to be carried. Viewing the matter realistically, the Supreme Court treated this provision as a penalty. Although it held this statute constitutional because the regulations whose infractions were thus penalized were themselves valid,3 it declared that “Congress may not exercise its control over the mails to enforce a requirement which lies outside its constitutional province. . . .” 4

381 U.S. 301 (1965) ) (striking down statute authorizing the Post Office to detain mail that it determined to be “communist political propaganda” and to forward it to the addressee only if he notified the Post Office that he wanted it). back
49 Stat. 803, 812, 813, 15 U.S.C. §§ 79d, 79e. back
Electric Bond & Share Co. v. SEC, 303 U.S. 419 (1938). back
Id. at 442. back