A lot of things we “know” about history come from “one side.” For example, we “know” that “protectionism” caused the Great Depression. Except it didn’t.
Who benefits from convincing the public that protecting national interests is bad if it reduces corporate profits? There are so, so many “truths” like that.
Another “Truth”: Court Packing is Bad
Here’s another “truth.” FDR tried to “pack the Supreme Court” and it was very, very bad.
I thought I’d look up what the Supreme Court was actually doing that led to FDR trying to do something to balance the Court, and what happened when he finally did try. Go ahead and try to find answers (the actual truth) to that question. It’s hard to find.
Eventually, if you know the right search terms, you might come across this, at a site called fdr4freedoms. (I’ll be exploring that site further.)
In 1932 and 1936, Americans enthusiastically embraced FDR’s vision of a federal government ready to use its power to make real improvements in their lives. They voted for him overwhelmingly. With Democratic majorities (augmented by Republican progressives) dominating both houses of Congress, the legislature also resoundingly endorsed FDR’s program of bold experimentation.
… But opponents in business and elsewhere repeatedly sued to block the laws. As these challenges reached the high court in 1935, four justices, with the help of one or two swing votes, began striking down the new laws as unconstitutional.
Summary: FDR worked to save regular people from the suffering caused by the depression. The sensible things he wanted to do were very, very popular. But it threatened corporate profits. The Court struck down FDR’s attempts to use government to help and protect the public.
The court struck down laws securing a minimum wage, maximum work hours, and the right to unionize for workers. It rejected pension programs and child labor restrictions, price codes and farm subsidies.
… “The Constitution grants to Congress no power to regulate for the promotion of the general welfare,” as the majority proclaimed in a 1936 case striking down a minimum wage and other regulation in the coal industry.
The Court said the government has no power to protect the public from anything the rich and corporations do to them! It even ruled that states couldn’t set minimum wages by themselves!
What Happened When FDR Threatened To Add Justices?
FRD proposed a plan to reduce the Court’s workload (badly needed then and even more now) and balance the Court by appointing an additional Supreme Court justice for every sitting justice over the age of seventy.
Result: The Court began to rule for the public! The Court ruled in favor of state minimum wage laws. This was dubbed “the switch in time that saved nine.” Then the Court ruled in favor of the National Labor Relations Act, protecting striking workers. Next it upheld the Security Act’s retirement and unemployment benefits. And then one of the right-wing Justices announced his retirement.
After these reversals, interest in rebalancing and expanding the Court faded.
The “Court Packing” threat WORKED.
FDR proposed rebalancing the Court. Immediately the Court started ruling in the public’s favor. One of the right-wing Justices even retired.
It worked. Threatening to rebalance the court SUCCEEDED! So when you hear that Democrats shouldn’t try to balance the Court today because it was bad when FDR tried to “pack the court,” you’re hearing that because “one side’ has made it a “truth.”
It’s is time to rebalance the Court.