What was the opposition to Roosevelt during his time as President between 1933 and 1945? Opposition from the Supreme Court
Given Roosevelt’s flexible ideas on the workings of the constitution, it was perhaps inevitable that he would come into conflict with its guardian, the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had the power to declare unconstitutional: acts of state governments, the federal government or Congress. When FDR came into office, the Supreme Court was dominated by Republican judges led by Chief Justice Charles Evan Hughes. Although it initially supported New Deal legislation, in 1935 the Court virtually wrecked the main reforms of the First New Deal: 1. The “sick chicken case” in May 1935 involved the Schechter Brothers, a firm of butchers in New York who were selling chickens unfit for human consumption. Prosecuted by the NIRA for breaking its codes of practice, the Schechter brothers appealed against the verdict to the Supreme Court. The Court declared that the federal government had exceeded its powers by interfering in intra-state commerce, which was a state matter. Moreover if the federal government could not prosecute individual firms for breaking NIRA codes, it followed that all of the codes themselves were unconstitutional and that the executive did not have the authority to intervene in matters that were the preserves of individual states. Most significantly, the ruling implied that the government had no power to oversee nation-wide economic affairs except in so far as they affected inter-state commerce.
2. In January 1936, in “United States vs. Butler”, also declared the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) unconstitutional for similar reasons to the Schechter case- the court felt the federal government had exceeded its power by interfering in intra-state commerce.
In a private memorandum, Roosevelt wrote that: “The decision virtually prohibits the President and Congress from the right, under modern conditions, to intervene...
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