The opinion of the court was delivered by: JONES
A preliminary injunction was granted on July 21, 1947, without contest and without a hearing on the questions now raised by the answer of the defendants, posing the constitutional question. The matter, therefore, is before me for final determination on the pleadings there being no factual controversy. See stipulation dated July 21, 1947.
The Housing and Rent Act of 1947 consists of two titles: Title 1 deals with amendments concerning housing loans, priorities, etc.; Title 2 sets forth the policy of and authority for the control of rents and evictions by the Housing Expediter.
In Section 201 of Title 2, Congress reaffirms the declaration in the Price Control Extension Act of 1946 concerning the undesirability of unduly prolonged controls in peace time. However, 'Congress recognizes that an emergency exists' and that further controls are desirable.
Under Sections 201 and 202 of Title 2, it is not possible for the Housing Expediter to extend rent control to any area which had not been designated a 'defense-rental area' prior to March 1, 1947, and in which rents were not regulated under the Emergency Price Control Act on March 1, 1947.
'After the effective date of this title, no maximum rents shall be established or maintained under the authority of the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942, as amended, with respect to any housing accommodations.'
Under Section 204(c) the Housing Expediter is authorized and directed to remove any or all maximum rents before this Title ceases to be in effect if, in his judgment, the need for such controls no longer exists. The remainder of Title 2 consists of enforcement and eviction provisions.
Section 206(b) authorizes the Housing Expediter to apply for an injunction whenever in his judgment any person has engaged or is about to engage in an act in violation of subsection (a) of Section 206 which prohibits the demand or receipt of rent in excess of the prescribed maximum rent.
The power of Congress to enact legislative measures is not lightly to be questioned. Only if some substantial constitutional right of the citizen has been infringed or impaired should the courts strike down an act of the Congress. What the court thinks about the law is of no consequence if the congressional measure does not infringe the constitutional rights of the defendants.
It is contended that the continuance of rent regulation stems from the war powers earlier exercised by the Congress and that there has not yet been any official termination of the war; but the President's proclamation of the termination of hostilities was issued on December 31, 1946 and although this may not have been an official termination of the war, nevertheless it inaugurated peace-in-fact.
In recent years that have gone many thoughtful people have questioned the constitutional right of Congress to authorize local rent control. The Great Emergency of the war rather influenced patriotic people to submit to such regulation although believing that it was, even in war time, beyond the reach of federal congressional or executive power. From the earliest times high legal authorities have held that the existence of a state of war did not nullify the provisions of the Constitution. How now can it be asserted that there is a single clause in the Federal Constitution, plausibly interpreted, that gives the government the right to regulate local rents in peace time?
It has been confidently asserted that in peace time there should be no emergency that the intelligent application of sound economic principles could not overcome within the framework of constitutional government. There is nothing in this law that stems from constitutional origin or power. The emergency created by housing shortage came into existence long before the war. It was not wholly due to war conditions and property required by the government for low cost housing with low rentals during the war was condemned and compensation paid the owner. What, in effect, the Act of 1947 does is to provide low rentals for certain groups without taking the ...