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People Rule - FDR: YOU'VE GONE TOO FAR!

FDR: YOU'VE GONE TOO FAR! (Illustration) American Presidents Censorship Civil Rights Government History Law and Politics Social Studies American History

On February 5, 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt proposed increasing the number of Supreme Court justices. His critics responded that the President was just trying to "pack the court" with people likely to support his agenda. Lots of political cartoons followed. This one, published in the Waterbury, Connecticut “Republican,” on the 14th of February that year, criticizes the court-packing plan by asking this question: "Do We Want A Ventriloquist Act In The Supreme Court?"

 

In 1937, FDR had a running battle with the United States Supreme Court. Roosevelt thought the high court was filled with nine old men whose independent decisions stood in his way. He wanted to "pack the court" with like-minded thinkers so he could implement his social policies.

Newspapers and political cartoonists had a field day with FDR's blatant efforts to get rid of the "checks" when it came to the "balance" of his agenda.

  • "YES," was the only word FDR wanted to hear from the Supreme Court. And the only qualifying test for the job was whether a candidate could shout it - loud and clear! 
  • The Washington Post saw the President as a kind of Samson who was attempting to destroy American democracy. 
  • Not content to merely pack the court, FDR pushed Congress to pass legislation which furthered his agenda. 
  • A few rulings in his favor were not enough. The Arizona Republic parodied the President: "I want an umpire I can depend on to call every pitch I make a strike!" 
  • Despite the President's wishes, the Senate Judiciary Committee found his court-packing proposals to be "needless, futile and utterly dangerous." After all, an independent judiciary is the "only certain shield of individual rights." 
  • As he wistfully looked at the trash-canned "Protective Power of the U.S. Supreme Court," one voter observed: "Yes, I voted for Roosevelt. But not for that!"
  • Not one to accept defeat, the President thought he'd put his plan "on ice" until he could resurrect it in a different form. He never did.

If the people, through negative public opinion, ultimately defeated FDR's plans to implement his legal agenda, there certainly was historical precedent for it. Wouldn't it be interesting to know George III's actual thoughts when his former subjects told him - their King - they'd had enough?

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: Sep 01, 2004

Updated Last Revision: Jan 20, 2015


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"FDR: YOU'VE GONE TOO FAR!" AwesomeStories.com. Sep 01, 2004. Oct 19, 2017.
       <https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/FDR-YOU-VE-GONE-TOO-FAR-People-Rule/1>.
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