« The remedy to be applied . . . | Main | Kristallnacht »

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Youngstown and Douglas MacArthur

Happily, I am back working on my Youngstown book. Specifically, I am working on the chapter about Justice Jackson's discussion of the Commander-in-Chief Clause. In this post, I want to highlight a connection between the concurrence and President Truman's dismissal of Douglas MacArthur, which occurred one year before the steel seizure.

In his opinion, Jackson emphasized the importance of distinguishing between the President's civil and military role. For example, he said that "the Constitution did not contemplate that the title Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy will constitute him also Commander-in-Chief of the country, its industries and its inhabitants." Later he added "[t]hat military powers of the Commander-in-Chief were not to supersede representative government of internal affairs seems obvious from the Constitution and from elementary American history." Finally, "[t]he purpose of lodging dual titles in one man was to insure that the civilian would control the military, not to enable the military to subordinate the presidential office."

This final statement was not made in a vacuum. The most famous example of civilian control of the military was Truman's decision to fire General MacArthur over strategic disagreements in the same Korean War that was at issue in Youngstown. MacArthur's removal was not a case but was an important precedent reaffirming civilian control over even the most popular military commanders. In a sense, Jackson's discussion was the other side of the coin. The proper balance between civil and military power ran both ways.   

Posted by Gerard Magliocca on November 8, 2023 at 08:10 PM | Permalink


The comments to this entry are closed.