Category Archives: severability

Alaska Airlines, Inc. v. Brock

480 U. S. 678

March 25, 1987

In 1978, the airline industry was almost completely deregulated, but Congress did pass the Employee Protection Program (EPP) to help anyone who lost a job due to that deregulation. The EPP law gave Congress a legislative veto over any regulations passed to implement it. Five years later, INS v. Chadha declared legislative vetoes unconstitutional. Alaska Airlines argued that the legislative veto provision was not severable from the rest of the EPP law, and that therefore the entire law had to be struck down.

Blackmun wrote for a unanimous Court, which found that the legislative veto provision was severable. The Court had a longstanding policy of finding unconstitutional provisions severable unless it made the remainder of the law either useless or clearly contrary to the intent of Congress. In this case, the legislative veto had almost no effect on the law’s overall operations (the regulations that needed to be made were minimal). Furthermore, legislative history showed that the veto provision was not considered a vital or important part of Congressional aims. Accordingly, the rest of the EPP was indeed severable.

This is completely off topic, but I truly do not understand why Jimmy Carter is so hated by conservatives. As this case reminds, he actually got the entire airline industry deregulated! More than that, he appointed Paul Volcker Chairman of the Federal Reserve, fought pro-choice efforts to secure taxpayer funded abortion, refused to cooperate with liberal House Speaker Tip O’Neill, helped negotiate peace between Egypt and Israel, showed more fiscal responsibility than Ronald Reagan, and enacted almost no major leftist legislation. There’s a decent case to be made that he actually compares favorably to some Republican presidents of the last half century.