FDR v. the Constitution: The Court-Packing Fight and the Triumph of Democracy

Burt Solomon, Author
Burt Solomon, Author . Walker $26 (337p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1589-0
Reviewed on: 11/03/2008
Release date: 12/01/2008
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-8027-1957-7
Paperback - 337 pages - 978-0-8027-1031-4
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During his first term as president, FDR became frustrated by a Supreme Court with a majority of Republican appointees that routinely ruled unconstitutional various New Deal initiatives in narrow 5 to 4 votes. Most particularly, the Court crippled the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933—the very heart of FDR's prescription for economic recovery. As Solomon (The Washington Century: Three Families and the Shaping of the Nation's Capital ) shows in this compelling and painstakingly researched study, after being re-elected by a large plurality in 1936, FDR attempted to revive a long-dead proposal, arguing that all Supreme Court justices 70 years or older either retire or the president be allowed to appoint a tandem judge to serve side-by-side with the older justice. This formula would have allowed FDR to shift the Court's balance of power. Solomon eloquently reveals how the proposal—hotly debated in Congress and characterized as a direct challenge to the fundamental principles of the Founders—eventually resulted in a stunning and humiliating defeat for FDR, sharply dividing members of his own party in the process. Photos. (Jan.)

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