National Labor Relations Board v Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation, 301 U.S. 1 (1937), was a United States Supreme Court case that upheld the constitutionality of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, also known as the Wagner Act. The case represented a major expansion in the Court's interpretation of Congress's power under the Commerce Clause and effectively spelled the end to the Court's striking down of New Deal economic legislation.

National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued February 10–11, 1937
Decided April 12, 1937
Full case nameNational Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation
Citations301 U.S. 1 (more)
57 S. Ct. 615; 81 L. Ed. 893; 1937 U.S. LEXIS 1122; 1 Lab. Cas. (CCH) ¶ 17,017; 1 Empl. Prac. December (CCH) ¶ 9601; 108 A.L.R. 1352; 1 L.R.R.M. 703
Case history
PriorJones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 1 NLRB 503, enforcement denied by NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 83 F.2d 998 (5th Cir. 1936), cert. granted, 299 U.S. 534 (1936)
Congress had the power, under the Commerce Clause, to regulate labor relations.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Charles E. Hughes
Associate Justices
Willis Van Devanter · James C. McReynolds
Louis Brandeis · George Sutherland
Pierce Butler · Harlan F. Stone
Owen Roberts · Benjamin N. Cardozo
Case opinions
MajorityHughes, joined by Brandeis, Stone, Roberts, Cardozo
DissentMcReynolds, joined by Van Devanter, Sutherland, Butler
Laws applied
U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 3 (the Commerce Clause); U.S. Const. amend. V (the Due Process Clause); National Labor Relations Act of 1935, 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq.

The case arose after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered Jones & Laughlin Steel to rehire workers who had been fired for seeking to unionize. Jones and Laughlin refused to comply on the grounds that the Wagner Act, which had established the NLRB, was unconstitutional.

In a 5–4 decision, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes upheld the constitutionality of the Wagner Act, holding that Congress could regulate economic activities that were "intrastate in character when separately considered" if they held "such a close and substantial relation to interstate commerce that their control is essential or appropriate to protect that commerce from burdens and obstructions." In his dissent, Associate Justice James Clark McReynolds argued that Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce should be limited to cases in which a violation is "direct and material."


Jones & Laughlin Steel, the fourth largest steel producer in the United States, was charged with discriminating against workers who wanted to join the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC).[1] The company had fired ten employees at its plant in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, after they moved to unionize. The NLRB ruled against the company and ordered that the workers be rehired and given back pay, but Jones & Laughlin refused to comply on the grounds and believed the Act to be unconstitutional. Citing Supreme Court precedent, lower courts agreed.[2]


Senator Robert F. Wagner was happy over the Supreme Court decision

Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote the majority opinion in the case, which reversed the lower court's ruling, in a 5-4 decision:

Justice McReynolds dissented, questioning Congress's enhanced power under the commerce clause. Although he did not dispute Congress's regulation of interstate commerce between the states, he stated that Congress's interference should be in cases where a violation is "direct and material." McReynolds stated that taxation on property, for example, may indirectly but seriously affect the cost of transportation. He concluded that Congress had transcended the power granted to it by the Constitution.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (2000-04-08). "NLRB v. Jones and Laughlin Supreme Court Ruling Historical Marker". WITF. Retrieved 2013-06-21.
  2. ^ NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 83 F.2d 998 (5th Cir. 1936).


  • Tushnet, Mark (2008). I dissent: Great Opposing Opinions in Landmark Supreme Court Cases. Boston: Beacon Press. pp. 101–112. ISBN 978-0-8070-0036-6.

External linksEdit