Posts Tagged ‘New Deal’

It was a messy neighborhood quarrel spread across the United States at a time of great suffering for most and insufferable intolerance by a fortunate few.  It was not just FDR fighting six reactionary Supreme Court Justices.  The nation was getting louder and louder in protest.  The New Deal faced a total wipeout by the Justices.

Jeff Shesol, Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. The Supreme Court is a fresh take on a fracas that left everyone sullied who took part in it.  FDR did not act without provocation and there were many who supported him.  He brilliantly understood that a Constitutional amendment against the powers of the Court was dangerous and unnecessary.  Where he was not smart was letting his self-confidence and political finesse cloud his decision to make a frontal attack by packing the court.

The reactionary Justices were so out of touch with Depression Americans there is no excuse for their behavior.  So satisfied with privilege they felt their social, political, and economic views were written in the Constitution.  It was their mission to save the old America.

The opposition to FDR were wealthy and controlled large segments of the economic structure of America.  Because they feared the New Deal would lessen their economic freedom, they hated FDR.  Their paid allies in the conservative wings of both parties were happy to join the fight.  They too needed to protect vested interests in their states.  They feared there would be nothing left for them once FDR finished consuming political America.

The media made little to less positive contribution, but they did sell magazines and papers.  They were the paid street thugs.

The foolish plan to pack the Court failed for many reasons, not the least was the lack of statesmanship in the White House and the Senate.  If FDR had simply circled the wagons around the Court, protecting the Constitution and Court while letting the circling hungry grow in number and volume, he would have won much sooner without any loss of political power.  The Supreme Court reactionaries were never going to win, so why did he fight?  Age and fear were angels sitting on the Justices’ shoulders.

Shesol does not use my ill-tempered tone, keeps an even hand in presenting all the participants, and adds depth to the story.  If FDR, the New Deal, the Depression, the Supreme Court, or Constitutional history are among your favorite desserts, pig out.  Charles Marlin


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