Journals Higher Education



Published: 10 October 1996

368 Pages

5-5/16 x 8 inches

ISBN: 9780195111316

Also Available As:


Bookseller Code (06)

The Supreme Court Reborn

The Constitutional Revolution in the Age of Roosevelt

William E. Leuchtenburg

To validate the revolutionary legislation of the New Deal, Franklin Roosevelt had to fight a ferocious battle against the opposition of the Supreme Court. Benefits like Social Security may now be seen as every American's birthright, but it took a Constitutional revolution to wrest such reform from the jaws of a laissez-faire Court.
In The Supreme Court Reborn, William E. Leuchtenburg deftly portrays the events leading up to Roosevelt's showdown with the Supreme Court. The conservative "Four Horsemen"--Justices Butler, Van Devanter, Sutherland, and McReynolds--struck down one regulatory law after another, outraging Roosevelt and much of the Depression-stricken nation. Roosevelt's infamous "Court-packing plan" would have allowed the president to add one new justice for every sitting justice over the age of seventy, but it was defeated. Despite this failure, however, the president won his battle with the Supreme Court when the court changed its mind and, one by one, the Four Horsemen left the bench, to be replaced by Roosevelt's appointees. As a consequence of the Constitutional revolution that began in 1937, not only was the New Deal upheld (as precedent after precedent was overturned), but the Court also began a dramatic expansion of civil liberties that would culminate in the Warren Court.
This superbly crafted book sheds new light on the great Constitutional crisis of the century, illuminating the legal and political battles that created today's Supreme Court.

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