22 July, 2011

July 22, 1937

The United States Senate stands up to a power hungry President, and votes down the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, which would have added six more justices to the Supreme Court. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D-USA) wanted to do this, so he could pack the court with justices sympathetic to his plans.

The Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937,[1] frequently called the court-packing plan,[2] was a legislative initiative proposed by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt to add more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. Roosevelt's purpose was to obtain favorable rulings regarding New Deal legislation that had been previously ruled unconstitutional.[3] The central and most controversial provision of the bill would have granted the President power to appoint an additional Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, up to a maximum of six, for every sitting member over the age of 70 years and 6 months.

During Roosevelt's first term,[4] the Supreme Court had struck down several New Deal measures intended to bolster economic recovery during the Great Depression, leading to charges from New Deal supporters that a narrow majority of the court was obstructionist and political. Since the U.S. Constitution does not limit the size of the Supreme Court, Roosevelt sought to counter this entrenched opposition to his political agenda by expanding the number of justices in order to create a pro-New Deal majority on the bench.[3] Opponents viewed the legislation as an attempt to stack the court, leading to the name "Court-packing Plan".[2]

Any similarities between this my bringing up this event and the events of today in the U.S. House of Representatives are entirely coincidental.

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