Roberts Invited the Court-Packing Fiasco

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts waits for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, February 4, 2020. (Leah Millis/Reuters Pool)
The chief justice’s attempt to shore up the legitimacy of the Court has backfired, inviting the very escalation it was calculated to avoid.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T he history that Democrats tell themselves about Franklin D. Roosevelt’s attempt at Court-packing is that it worked after all, because it acted as an effective threat. The Court had been striking down a variety of New Deal programs FDR believed essential to national recovery from the Great Depression. The administration convinced itself that a Republican-dominated Court would destroy them. And they concocted a pretext for their ideologically motivated expansionism: “overcrowded federal court dockets.”

FDR’s bill for judicial reform went down as an embarrassing legislative defeat and example of overreach for the president. But almost immediately, a series of rulings beginning with

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