Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court

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9780393064742: Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court

In the years before World War II, Franklin Roosevelt's fiercest, most unyielding opponent was neither a foreign power nor "fear itself." It was the U.S. Supreme Court.

Beginning in 1935, in a series of devastating decisions, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority left much of FDR’s agenda in ruins. The pillars of the New Deal fell in short succession. It was not just the New Deal, but democracy itself, that stood on trial. In February 1937, Roosevelt struck back with an audacious plan to expand the Court to fifteen justices―and to “pack” the new seats with liberals who shared his belief in a “living” Constitution.

The ensuing fight was a firestorm that engulfed the White House, the Court, Congress, and the nation. The final verdict was a shock. It dealt FDR the biggest setback of his political life, split the Democratic party, and set the stage for a future era of Republican dominance. Yet the battle also transformed America’s political and constitutional landscape, hastening the nation’s march into the modern world.

This brilliant work of history unfolds like a thriller, with vivid characters and unexpected twists. Providing new evidence and fresh insight, Jeff Shesol shows why understanding the Court fight is essential to understanding the presidency, personality, and legacy of FDR―and to understanding America at a crossroads in its history.

16 pages of photos

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About the Author:

Jeff Shesol is the author of Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court and Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy, and the Feud That Defined a Decade. He was a speechwriter in the Clinton administration and lives in Washington, DC.

From AudioFile:

As President Obama's health-care plan is threatened by its opposition (possibly all the way to the Supreme Court) and the nation struggles with joblessness, no episode in American history is more instructive than Franklin Roosevelt's battle with the Supreme Court and its allies in the spring of 1937. Few political episodes in the history of American democracy are more important and less understood. Mel Foster's perfectly metered baritone gives life to Jeff Shesol's detailed account of the "court fight." Shesol's narrative is carefully researched and structured. Foster's occasional attempts to mimic the voices of the pompous participants add variety and humor. Despite the enormous cast of characters rushing on and off the stage of history, the core story is easy for the listener to follow. F.C. AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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