FDR's Constitutional Vision and the Defeat of the Court-Packing Plan

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:
FDR's Constitutional Vision and the Defeat of the Court-Packing Plan

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This chapter explains how the commitment reached new heights with the introduction of the Court-packing plan. Countering conventional wisdom, it is argued that Roosevelt's plan was not simply designed to “constitutionalize” the New Deal, but was rather part of a larger institutional program which would expand the influence of the presidency by ending enduring alliances between the Court's doctrine and certain sectional interests represented in Congress. For civil rights, the most important of these alliances was the one between the Court and the South. Roosevelt's institutional design for a modern presidency threatened southerners' sense of security over the future legality of segregation. Together with other forces opposed to the president's constitutional vision, southerners helped bring down the Court-packing plan. This argument challenges traditional interpretations of the plan's failure as the result of presidential mismanagement.

Keywords: Court-packing plan; constitutionalize; New Deal; civil rights; constitutional vision

Chapter.  15901 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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