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The Hughes Court, 1932–1937. Front row: Justices Brandeis and Van Devanter, Chief Justice Hughes, and Justices McReynolds and Sutherland. Back row: Justices Roberts, Butler, Stone, and Cardozo.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His dissatisfaction over Supreme Court decisions holding New Deal programs unconstitutional prompted him to seek out methods to change the way the court functioned.

The Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> (frequently called the "court-packing plan")<ref name=E451>Epstein, at 451.</ref> was a legislative initiative proposed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to add more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. Roosevelt's purpose was to obtain favorable rulings regarding New Deal legislation that the court had ruled unconstitutional.<ref name=L115>Leuchtenburg, at 115ff.</ref> The central 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 member of the court over the age of 70 years and 6 months.

In the Judiciary Act of 1869 Congress had established that the United States Supreme Court would consist of the Chief Justice and eight associate justices. During Roosevelt's first term the Supreme Court struck down several New Deal measures as being unconstitutional. Roosevelt sought to reverse this by changing the makeup of the court through the appointment of new additional justices who he hoped would rule his legislative initiatives did not exceed the constitutional authority of the government. Since the U.S. Constitution does not define the size of the Supreme Court, Roosevelt pointed out that it was within the power of the Congress to change it. The legislation was viewed by members of both parties as an attempt to stack the court, and was opposed by many Democrats, including Vice President John Nance Garner.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref><ref name="Ashurst reviews">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref> The bill came to be known as Roosevelt's "court-packing plan".<ref name=E451/>

The legislation was unveiled on February 5, 1937, and was the subject of Roosevelt's 9th Fireside chat of March 9, 1937.<ref>http://www.mhric.org/fdr/chat9.html</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> Three weeks after the radio address the Supreme Court published an opinion upholding a Washington state minimum wage law in West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish.<ref name=parrish>300 U.S. 379 (1937)</ref> The 5–4 ruling was the result of the sudden jurisprudential shift by Associate Justice Owen Roberts, who joined with the wing of the bench supportive to the New Deal legislation. Since Roberts had previously ruled against most New Deal legislation, his support here was seen as a result of the political pressure the president was exerting on the court. Some interpreted his reversal as an effort to maintain the Court's judicial independence by alleviating the political pressure to create a court more friendly to the New Deal. This reversal came to be known as "the switch in time that saved nine"; however, recent legal-historical scholarship has called that narrative into question<ref>White, at 308.</ref> as Roberts's decision and vote in the Parrish case predated the actual introduction of the 1937 bill.<ref name="McKenna413">McKenna, at 413.</ref>

Roosevelt's legislative initiative ultimately failed. The bill was held up in the Senate Judiciary Committee by Democrat committee chair Henry F. Ashurst, who delayed hearings in the Judiciary Committee, saying "No haste, no hurry, no waste, no worry—that is the motto of this committee."<ref name=Baker></ref> As a result of his delaying efforts, the bill was held in committee for 165 days, and opponents of the bill credited Ashurst as instrumental in its defeat.<ref name="Ashurst reviews"/> The bill was further undermined by the untimely death of its chief advocate in the U.S. Senate, Senate Majority Leader Joseph T. Robinson. Contemporary observers broadly viewed Roosevelt's initiative as political maneuvering. Its failure exposed the limits of Roosevelt's abilities to push forward legislation through direct public appeal. The public perception of his efforts here was in stark contrast to the reception of his legislative efforts during his first term.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref name=L156>Leuchtenburg, at 156–61.</ref> Roosevelt ultimately prevailed in establishing a majority on the court friendly to his New Deal legislation, though some scholars view Roosevelt's victory as pyrrhic.<ref name=L156>Leuchtenburg, at 156–61.</ref>


Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 sections
Intro   Background    The New Deal goes to court    Black Monday    Further setbacks   Antecedents to the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill   Bill    Senate hearings    White Monday    Bill's failure    Consequences    Timeline    See also    References   External links  

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The Hughes Court, 1932–1937. Front row: Justices Brandeis and Van Devanter, Chief Justice Hughes, and Justices McReynolds and Sutherland. Back row: Justices Roberts, Butler, Stone, and Cardozo.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His dissatisfaction over Supreme Court decisions holding New Deal programs unconstitutional prompted him to seek out methods to change the way the court functioned.

The Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> (frequently called the "court-packing plan")<ref name=E451>Epstein, at 451.</ref> was a legislative initiative proposed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to add more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. Roosevelt's purpose was to obtain favorable rulings regarding New Deal legislation that the court had ruled unconstitutional.<ref name=L115>Leuchtenburg, at 115ff.</ref> The central 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 member of the court over the age of 70 years and 6 months.

In the Judiciary Act of 1869 Congress had established that the United States Supreme Court would consist of the Chief Justice and eight associate justices. During Roosevelt's first term the Supreme Court struck down several New Deal measures as being unconstitutional. Roosevelt sought to reverse this by changing the makeup of the court through the appointment of new additional justices who he hoped would rule his legislative initiatives did not exceed the constitutional authority of the government. Since the U.S. Constitution does not define the size of the Supreme Court, Roosevelt pointed out that it was within the power of the Congress to change it. The legislation was viewed by members of both parties as an attempt to stack the court, and was opposed by many Democrats, including Vice President John Nance Garner.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref><ref name="Ashurst reviews">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref> The bill came to be known as Roosevelt's "court-packing plan".<ref name=E451/>

The legislation was unveiled on February 5, 1937, and was the subject of Roosevelt's 9th Fireside chat of March 9, 1937.<ref>http://www.mhric.org/fdr/chat9.html</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> Three weeks after the radio address the Supreme Court published an opinion upholding a Washington state minimum wage law in West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish.<ref name=parrish>300 U.S. 379 (1937)</ref> The 5–4 ruling was the result of the sudden jurisprudential shift by Associate Justice Owen Roberts, who joined with the wing of the bench supportive to the New Deal legislation. Since Roberts had previously ruled against most New Deal legislation, his support here was seen as a result of the political pressure the president was exerting on the court. Some interpreted his reversal as an effort to maintain the Court's judicial independence by alleviating the political pressure to create a court more friendly to the New Deal. This reversal came to be known as "the switch in time that saved nine"; however, recent legal-historical scholarship has called that narrative into question<ref>White, at 308.</ref> as Roberts's decision and vote in the Parrish case predated the actual introduction of the 1937 bill.<ref name="McKenna413">McKenna, at 413.</ref>

Roosevelt's legislative initiative ultimately failed. The bill was held up in the Senate Judiciary Committee by Democrat committee chair Henry F. Ashurst, who delayed hearings in the Judiciary Committee, saying "No haste, no hurry, no waste, no worry—that is the motto of this committee."<ref name=Baker></ref> As a result of his delaying efforts, the bill was held in committee for 165 days, and opponents of the bill credited Ashurst as instrumental in its defeat.<ref name="Ashurst reviews"/> The bill was further undermined by the untimely death of its chief advocate in the U.S. Senate, Senate Majority Leader Joseph T. Robinson. Contemporary observers broadly viewed Roosevelt's initiative as political maneuvering. Its failure exposed the limits of Roosevelt's abilities to push forward legislation through direct public appeal. The public perception of his efforts here was in stark contrast to the reception of his legislative efforts during his first term.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref name=L156>Leuchtenburg, at 156–61.</ref> Roosevelt ultimately prevailed in establishing a majority on the court friendly to his New Deal legislation, though some scholars view Roosevelt's victory as pyrrhic.<ref name=L156>Leuchtenburg, at 156–61.</ref>


Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 sections
Intro   Background    The New Deal goes to court    Black Monday    Further setbacks   Antecedents to the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill   Bill    Senate hearings    White Monday    Bill's failure    Consequences    Timeline    See also    References   External links  

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