FDR and Chief Justice Hughes: The President, the Supreme Court, and the Epic Battle over the New Deal

James F. Simon. Simon & Schuster, $27 (448p) ISBN 978-1-4165-7328-9
This dramatic history illuminates the uniquely American conflict between constitutional reverence and popular politics. New York Law School prof Simon (Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney) spotlights the struggle between a conservative Court under Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, which struck down key New Deal measures in the 1930s, and a frustrated President Franklin Roosevelt, who counterattacked with a proposal to “pack” the Court with sympathetic appointees. Much of the book is a high-contrast dual biography of the two men—Roosevelt the impatient pragmatist, brushing aside legal restraints on federal action to drag the country out of the Depression; Hughes the Republican jurist, devoted to principle and precedent. Yet Simon’s colorful profiles show how much these adversaries shared—Hughes made his name investigating corporate malfeasance and supported civil rights, labor reforms, and welfare programs—and how both contributed to a revolution that demolished outdated constitutional dogmas while preserving constitutional forms. With the present-day Court poised to rule on health care reform amid controversies over the government’s power to address economic turmoil, Simon’s account of a very similar era is both trenchant and timely. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Feb. 7)
Reviewed on: 10/31/2011
Release date: 02/07/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4165-7889-5
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