in Reconsidering Roosevelt on Race

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780226500867
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226561127 | DOI:

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This chapter provides a tour of the Roosevelt administration's judicial policy, beginning with an examination of the union between the broad movements of rights-centered liberalism and legal realism, and ending with an analysis of specific Supreme Court civil rights decisions. While the 1932 election may have created an opportunity for constitutional change, it did not presage a revolution in the judiciary's attitude toward individual rights. The Court's institutional mission of 1940 and 1950 was a consequence of Democratic Party and institutional politics. A variety of forces influenced the development of this mission, but the combination of Roosevelt's party leadership and his pursuit of the modern presidency, each defined by the three presidential motivations and shaped by his conclusion that southern democracy was inconsistent with his vision for the nation, ensured that the ideal of a more inclusive democracy was woven into the fiber of the Court's midcentury doctrine.

Keywords: Roosevelt administration; rights-centered liberalism; legal realism; Democratic Party; institutional politics

Chapter.  9724 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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