The Supreme Court Reborn
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The Supreme Court Reborn : The Constitutional Revolution in the Age of Roosevelt

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Description

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, from the Court's relentless invalidation of regulatory laws to Roosevelt's notorious "Court-packing plan" which would have allowed the president to add one new justice for every sitting justice over the age of seventy. In fascinating detail Leuchtenburg shows that 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.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 127 x 198.12 x 22.86mm | 430.91g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0195111311
  • 9780195111316

Review quote

"The strength of The Supreme Court Reborn lies in Leuchtenburg's able combination of social, political, and constitutional history....For those who want to begin to understand how the constitution was transformed in the course of the century, Leuchtenburg is an engaging and able guide."-Newsday "In terms of movement and upheaval in the Court itself, there is no match for the FDR era, and essayist Leuchtenburg's collection is matchless as well."-Booklist "This collection of essays is highly recommended for individuals and scholars who wish to understand the separation of powers in the American national government during a time of national turmoil."-Library Journal "An account that is always lucid and at times even gripping."-The New York Times "These nine essays...combine careful documentation and total readability....Any lawyer who dismisses the constitutional history of the 1930s as old hat has a pleasant surprise in store once he or she begins any one of Professor Leuchtenburg's essays....Writing of refreshing clarity and precision."-New York Law Journal "An excellent account of Supreme Court history.... Leuchtenburg writes like a novelist."-Choice "For any reader who is looking to see what happened to the Constitution in 1937, Leuchtenburg here supplies the critical data."-The New Republicshow more

Back cover copy

In The Supreme Court Reborn, esteemed scholar William E. Leuchtenburg explores the critical episodes of the legal revolution that created the Court we know today. Leuchtenburg deftly portrays the events leading up to Roosevelt's showdown with the Supreme Court. Committed to laissez-faire doctrine, the conservative "Four Horsemen" - Justices Butler, Van Devanter, Sutherland, and McReynolds - aided by the swing vote of Justice Owen Roberts - struck down one regulatory law after another, outraging Roosevelt and much of the Depression-stricken nation. Leuchtenburg demonstrates that Roosevelt thought he had the backing of the country as he prepared a scheme to undermine the Four Horsemen. Famous (or infamous) as the "Court-packing plan", this proposal would have allowed the president to add one new justice for every sitting justice over the age of seventy. The plan picked up considerable momentum in Congress, it was only after a change in the voting of Justice Roberts (called "the switch in time that saved nine") and the death of Senate Majority Leader Joseph T. Robinson that it shuddered to a halt. Roosevelt's persistence led to one of his biggest legislative defeats. Despite the failure of the Court-packing plan, however, the president won his battle with the Supreme Court; one by one, the Four Horsemen left the bench, to be replaced by Roosevelt appointees. Leuchtenburg explores the far-reaching nature of FDR's victory. 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 also the Court began a dramatic expansion of civil liberties that would culminate in the Warren Court. Among thesurprises was Senator Hugo Black, who faced widespread opposition for his lack of qualifications when he was appointed as associate justice, shortly afterward, a reporter revealed that he had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Despite that background, Black became an articulate spokesman for individual liberty.show more

About William E. Leuchtenburg

William E. Leuchtenburg is William Rand Kenan Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Visiting Professor of Legal History at Duke Law School. Winner of both the Bancroft and Parkman prizes, he is the author of many books, including The Perils of Prosperity and Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal.show more

Rating details

31 ratings
3.41 out of 5 stars
5 23% (7)
4 16% (5)
3 45% (14)
2 13% (4)
1 3% (1)
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