Roosevelt’s fiercest, most unyielding opponent was neither a foreign power nor “fear itself”—it was the U.S. Supreme Court. During Franklin Roosevelt’s first term, a narrow conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court struck down several key elements of the New Deal legislation. In February 1937, Roosevelt retaliated with an audacious plan to expand the Court—to subdue the conservative justices by outnumbering them with liberals. The ensuing fight was a firestorm that engulfed the White House, the Court, Congress, and the country. Although the Court would remain at nine justices, the confrontation transformed the political and constitutional landscape, saving the New Deal and bringing the nation into the modern world. But it also dealt FDR the biggest setback of his political life and split the Democratic party, thus laying the foundation for a future era of Republican dominance.
This brilliant work of political and judicial history unfolds like a thriller, with wonderful characters and unexpected twists. It uses new evidence to make clear that understanding the fight is essential to understanding the personality and presidency of FDR—and America at a crossroads in its history. 16 pages of photos.
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