On Feb. 5, 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt announced a plan to increase the size of the Supreme Court from nine to as many as 15 justices. His argument was that the existing court continued to strike down New Deal legislation as unconstitutional, and to get things done, it was important for the Court to be more compliant.
Roosevelt’s plan called for mandatory retirement of justices, alongside their replacement with “assistants” with full voting rights if they refused to retire. Democrats (Roosevelt was a Democrat) and Republicans united to oppose the plan, which would have given Roosevelt unprecedented control over the third branch of government.
- Can you think of recent Supreme Court decisions which have affected your life or the lives of those around you? How important is the court to you?
- Do you think the country would be better off if the President had more power? Or less?
- Today, a lot of political fighting occurs around the appointment of judges (Supremes and lower federal courts, as well). Until 2013, to be appointed a federal judge required agreement from members of both parties, except in rare circumstances. In 2013, Democratic Senators removed this requirement because of Republican opposition to some of President Obama’s appointees. Today, President Trump and the Republican Senate are taking advantage of the change of rules, and many judges are being appointed without any support from the other party. Do you see this as a positive or negative development?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of the current rules?
Washington Daily. 1937 Do We Want A Ventriloquist Act In The Supreme Court? [Digital image}. Retrieved from <fdranewdealerinhope.weebly.com>.