February 8, 2010


(James Roosevelt - selling dad's plan in 1937)

When FDR suggested changes be made in the Supreme Court, appointing as many as six additional justices instead of the usual nine, it was a hard sell. In fact it went down to a stinging 70-20 Senate defeat by July. But FDR did a huge sales pitch for the plan, including enlisting his son James to stump for its passage.

James Roosevelt: “ I believe you will come to the conclusion that the President’s proposal if the most effective way to make constitutional democracy work. It confers no new powers. It takes away no previously existing authority. It is unquestionably constitutional. It will enable the Chief Executive to carry out with quickness and dispatch all those measures which meet the cry for repair and restoration. To you and to me and to millions of others throughout our country, it will bring comfort in the thought that those evil years of eight, yes of even twenty years ago will not come back.”

I'm sure at the time most Republicans had coronaries over the thought of six additional judges, all appointed by FDR setting the laws of the land. No doubt the wave of fear and calls of Dictatorship ran up and down the ranks of the right wing like a flu epidemic. But I can only imagine what it would have been like, had those fifteen judges been in place around the time of Bush, or even Nixon for that matter.

The mind fairly reels.

Perhaps some things were best not to have happened after all.

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