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LIGHTING THE WAY

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

As the dust settles it is impossible to grasp the full implications of the T.V.A. decision. This much appears certain: where the federal government is exercising power in its proper sphere, any supplementary measures, such as the purchase of transmission lines from the Alabama Power Company, and the sale of surplus power, will be upheld by the Supreme Court. In other words, the use of the "Yardstick" principle of President Roosevelt in protecting the consumer of electricity has been deemed neither the invasion of states' rights nor the violation of due process which many of its opponents have constantly charged.

Although the decision touched the Wilson Dam at Muscle Shoals alone, an avowed wartime measure, it appears almost certain that the Court will view the rest of the T.V.A. project with similar approval. What Congress has done here under its war powers, it may do in time of peace under the navigation power, as Chief Justice Hughes, in emphasizing the fact that the "Tennessee River is a navigable stream," has suggested. This, of course, is only one means out of many, but it is an ironical truth in American government that once the Supreme Court has turned the light from red to green almost any excuse to drive ahead is good enough.

The tone of the 8-1 decision should permit the federal government to go far with its power program. That Chief Justice Hughes should dwell upon the authority of the government to dispose of constitutionally acquired property, augurs well for the government's hopes to compete with private business in fields where such competition harmonizes with the general welfare. The New Deal has been given immeasurable power according to the broadest implications of yesterday's decision, and one can only hope that the Roosevelt government will use it with greater sagacity than it has hitherto shown.

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