The Hughes Court (1930–41)

Commerce and Labor

In what decision did the Hughes Court invalidate the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933?

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 by a 6–3 vote in United States v. Butler (1936). The law sought to revitalize the economy by controlling the amount and price of farm products, as farmers produced too much supply and received too little money for their products. The law gave financial incentives for farmers to produce less and imposed “processing taxes” on companies that turned farm products into consumer goods, like meatpacking plants. The Court majority determined that Congress had broad powers to tax and spend under Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution but that this law invaded the province of the states. “The act invades the reserved rights of the states,” wrote Justice Owen Roberts. “It is a statutory plan to regulate and control agricultural production, a matter beyond the powers delegated to the federal government.”


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