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F.D.R. - Supreme Court-Packing

Click here to read a Cold War editorial by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.

FDR's ''Pack The Court'' Proposal (Pathfinder Magazine, 1937)

Attached is a break-down of President Roosevelt's proposed legislation to rid the Supreme Court of six ornery justices by imposing a mandatory retirement age for the whole of the Federal Government. Failing that, FDR's legislation would have granted the President power to appoint an additional Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, up to a maximum of six, for every member of the court over the age of 70, in order to assure passage of all New Deal legislation.


The Critics of FDR's Supreme Court Scheme (Pathfinder Magazine, 1937)

Attached are seven thumbnail arguments against FDR's court scheme that were circulating around the country at that time:

"[The President's] move is dictated by expediency and not by a long-range view and that it comes only because the Supreme Court has decided against New Deal legislation 11 out of 16 times."


FDR vs. the Men in Black (Collier's Magazine, 1941)

An article written by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 1945) in which he rants on about all the triumphs of his first two terms, repeating in several places how much better his administration was than the one that preceded him, how popular he was with the voters and emphasizing throughout that the Federal Government had tremendous potential as a force for good during the Great Depression, but it's efforts were blocked at every turn:

"For a dead hand was being laid upon this whole program of progress - to stay it all.
It was the hand of the Supreme Court of the United States...former Supreme Court Justices McReynolds, Van Devanter, and Butler, whose judgments were all consistently against New Deal measures."

Click here to see an anti-New Deal cartoon.


FDR on His Efforts to Pack the Court (Collier's Magazine, 1941)

In writing the attached article for Collier's, FDR made his feelings clear that he felt a deep sense of urgency to alleviate the collective pain spreading across the nation as a result of the Great Depression. Believing that it was the Supreme Court that was prolonging the agony of the American unemployed, FDR quickly began to examine all his options as to how he could best secure a majority on the court:

- from Amazon:

"Here was one man, not elected by the people, who by a nod of the head could apparently nullify or uphold the will of the overwhelming majority of a nation of 130,000,000."

"Time would not allow us to wait for vacancies. Things were happening."

Click here to read about American
communists and their Soviet overlords.


FDR, Congress and the Plan to Pack the Supreme Court (Collier's Magazine, 1947)

Attached is an article by James A. Farley (1888 1976), who in 1933 was appointed by F.D.R. to serve as both the Postmaster General as well as the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. During the Thirties, Farley was also FDR's go-to-guy in all matters involving politics on Capitol Hill, and he wrote the attached article two years after Roosevelt's death in order to explain how the Court-packing scheme was received in Congress and how his relationship with FDR soon soured.

"Boss," I asked him, "why didn't you advise the senators in advance that you were sending them the Court bill?"
"Jim, I just couldn't," he answered earnestly. "I didn't want to have it get to the press prematurely..."


Dumping Justices (Pathfinder Magazine, 1937)

The attached editorial was intended to serve as PATHFINDER MAGAZINE's introduction to six pen-portraits that follow on the next webpage. In order to better serve their readers the editors provided profiles of the oldest Supreme Court justices who FDR wished to remove.

"[Justices] McReynolds, Sutherland, Van Devanter, and Butler are generally conceded to be the court's consistently conservative bloc. In some cases, this bloc is viewed as not only conservative but also reactionary."

Click here to read the profiles of the six justices...


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