The Corner

Law & the Courts

‘A Measure Which Should Be So Emphatically Rejected’

How extraordinary an idea is court-packing? Consider that, having rejected FDR’s attempt to pack the Supreme Court in 1937, the Senate Judiciary Committee explained that the president had proposed:

a measure which should be so emphatically rejected that its parallel will never again be presented to the free representatives of the free people of America.

This was merely “obstructionism,” right? Hardly. In 1937, the Senate contained 74 Democrats and 16 Republicans, the most lopsided ratio since the year after the conclusion of the Civil War. In the House, Democrats held 334 seats to the Republicans’ 103. And, in the same election, President Roosevelt was returned with 60 percent of the vote and an electoral college victory of 523 to 8.

We will see if the 1937 Judiciary Committee was correct in its augury. My bet is that it will be.


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