Threat to Pack the Supreme Court?

President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democratic) was frustrated by US Supreme Court decisions that overturned some important parts of his New Deal legislation. Emboldened by his fourth election as US president in 1936, he introduced a bill to add members to the Supreme Court. The Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 would have allowed the president to add up to six additional members for each Supreme Court justice that was over the age of 70 years and 6 months.

fdr court packing

The bill was viewed as an attempt to lessen the independence of the Judicial Branch of the government and even though there were Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate, it did not pass.

It still could be considered a success since the Court stopped invalidating New Deal legislation, including one (Helvering v. Davis) that decided that the Social Security tax was constitutional. Next time you look at the FICA deduction on your pay stub, you’ll know who to thank.


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