Film: 9311

Politics | 1970 | Sound | Colour

Clip:

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Synopsis:

An educational film to get students to think for themselves about the US constitution.
Young 1970's couple talk about financial hardships and feeding the family and interests rates. Old woman talks about prices going up. Very close-up of a young woman who talks about protesting about economic hardship in Washington.

Man in loud jacket on television talks about what the president should do. It is a car television, bearded man switches it off. Car pulls up and his chauffeur lets him out. He is the Secretary of Commerce (an actor) of the U.S.A. Woman announces him and he steps up to a podium with a US flag beside him. He talks about inflation and rising prices and wage control. He reads the statement and the press asks questions.

A tray of cans is price stamped. A supermarket. The supermarket boss in a bow-tie asks a secretary to set up a board meeting in response to the price freeze, in other words a practical application of the power of the President. At the board meeting the supermarket explains the legality of the situation. The buyer and sales department describe the effects.

A television studio. A congress man says he is unhappy as Congress was not consulted. Consumer advisor says she is happy that prices have levelled. Retailer says there is threat of shortages as producers suffer. Supermarket boss dismissed the legality of the president's authority to freeze prices. He says he may have to lay off staff as a result.

The court room, hearing the case of a supermarket boss against the powers of the President to set a price freeze. It is a woman judge. The prosecution maintains that the president's action is unconstitutional because Congress was not consulted or passed, so the president acted without Congress. The defence argues that the president does have power to take emergency action. He gives historical illustrations. President must use powers to protect property. He gets quite passionate. The prosecution then says the president has not legislative powers, this is the power of Congress. He gives historic examples but they are only in wartime not during economic hardship. Congress is democratic way to price freeze. Executive order of the President not in wartime is unconstitutional. The judge discusses whether the president has ever exceeded his powers.

On screen: 'How would you decide this case?'


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