Chapter 7 of the Epstein and Walker text book contains a detailed discussion of the conflict in the 1930s between the Supreme Court and the political agenda being advanced by President Roosevelt’s New Deal program, much of which was rooted in Congress’ power in Article I, Section 8 to regulate interstate commerce. To deal with this conflict Roosevelt in 1937 introduced the Judicial Reform Act, often referred to as FDR’s “court-packing plan”, that would, if passed, allowed him to make 6 new appointments to the Supreme Court, increasing it from 9 to 15 justices. Eventually what’s famously called the “switch in time that saved nine”, the Court’s 1937 decision in West Coast Hotel v. Parish, a case concerning whether a state regulation conflicted with the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause, brought this conflict to an end. Later in 1937, members of the Four Horsemen, the justices who strongly opposed FDR’s policies on constitutional grounds, began to retire. With the support of the Senate dominated by the Democratic Party, Roosevelt was able to appoint new justices who shared FDR’s ideology and by the early 1940’s he had appointed eight of the nine justices. Use this forum to discuss this conflict between Roosevelt’s court-packing plan and the Supreme Court. Specifically, your comments should address why the plan failed in Congress and what these events tell us about both the politics of the Supreme Court and the court’s role in the American political and constitutional system. Was Roosevelt correct in trying to shape the policies made by the Supreme Court or should he have refrained from taking such action? To defend his policy dealing the Supreme Court FDR went directly to the American people in one of his Fireside chats radio broadcasts. Part of that speech is reprinted in the Epstein and Walker book chapter on the commerce power. You should draw upon some of Roosevelt’s comments in your ideas about this discussion forum.
Chapter 7 of the Epstein and Walker text book contains a det
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