Over breakfast this morning,
Many of us have heard the phrase “the switch in time that saved nine,” but know little about the true story behind President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s court packing plan. In his new book, Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court, Shesol chronicles the power struggle between President Roosevelt and the Supreme Court following the passage of the New Deal — and the Court declaring parts of it unconstitutional.
After watching many of his reforms encounter stiff opposition from the “Four Horsemen” who made up the politically-savvy and conservative wing of the Supreme Court, Roosevelt decided to take action. Since the justices had lifetime appointments and could not be easily removed,
When the plan was conceived in 1937,
Roosevelt’s refusal to compromise his plan of adding six justices (Shesol notes that he may have been able to successfully add two, or even four seats to the Court), was a severe political miscalculation for the president. Luckily for
Our thanks to Jeff Shesol and Judge Wald for a fascinating morning. Photos of the event can be found by clicking here. To learn more about the true story behind the court packing plan, you can watch Shesol speak about his book with Jeffrey Toobin on c-span.