Bell Ringers
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By Mrsbenalayat
On July 20, 2020

Bell Ringer: The Power of the Supreme Court to Check the President

Truman Seizes Steel Plants

Susan Swain, C-SPAN host, introduces a vintage video clip. The clip explains the reasons why President Harry S. Truman seized controlled on the U.S. Steel plants.


This Bell Ringer can be used after students have been introduced to the government’s system of checks and balances. Students will explore an example of one of the Judicial branch checking the power of the President. President Truman called for a seizure of U.S. steel mills by the Commerce department. Youngstown Steel and Tube v Sawyer is the court case that resulted from that presidential order. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled that President Truman did not have the power to take possession of the steel mills. Students will hear from Truman directly on the seizure of the steel mills. Students will also listen to experts explain the court's ruling. You may use this bell ringer with the whole class. Have students turn and talk with a partner to answer the questions. Have some of the groups share their answers. Teachers can also opt to use the worksheet in the Additional Resources section and assign it to students through Google Classroom, Schoology, or other platform.

Bell Ringer Assignment

  • Why did President Harry S. Truman want the United States Government to take control of the U.S. steel mills?
  • What was President Truman referring to when he said, “with American troops facing the enemy on the field of battle”?
  • According to the Supreme Court ruling in this case, did President Truman have the power to seize the steel mills? Explain why.
  • How is this case an example of the judicial branch checking the power of the president?

Additional Resources



    • Ammunition
    • Commerce Department
    • President
    • Statutory
    • Steel Mill
    • Supreme Court


    Executive BranchJudicial BranchSupreme Court CasesU.S. History


    Middle School