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Review Sevem

830 words - 4 pages

“The history of the Supreme Court during the New Deal is not a simple tale of the unmediated interplay of judicial purposes, external political events, and case outcomes.” (41) In Rethinking the New Deal Court author Barry Cushman challenges the reasoning of the Supreme Court’s infamous ‘switch in time that saved the nine’. The conventional belief states in the spring of 1937 the Supreme Court abruptly abandoned it’s judicial precedents on commerce and due process in an attempt to salvage their political positions in the face of President Franklin Roosevelt’s court-packing scheme. For many years this theory has been taught as the main reason behind the Supreme Court’s adherent reversal. ...view middle of the document...

In fact, when the Supreme Court handed down it’s 1937 decisions, the FDR court-packing scheme was still unknown, thus making it impossible to influence the justice’s decisions. Rather than attempt to validate this conventional theory, Cushman pinpoints one Supreme Court decision as being the foundation of change, 1934’s Nebbia v. New York. In a case where state law regulating milk prices was upheld by the Supreme Court, Cushman declares, this is “when the Court abandoned the public/private distinction…[and] pulled a particularly important thread from the fabric [of the old system]” and within time the entire system of laissez-faire constitutionalism would unravel and eventually collapse. (7)
So if court-packing scheme had not caused the New Deal Court to reverse it’s stance on governmental regulation of the economy, what had? Cushman believes the reversal was due to many reasons; including, the wording of new laws written by New Deal lawyers, changes in economic and social structure of the country, and the backgrounds and opinions of the justices. Specifically, Justice Owen Roberts firmly believed bad and outdated precedents should be overruled. These reasons would explain how in 1937 the Supreme Court upheld New Deal legislation after declaring similar laws unconstitutional only years before.
For most of the book Cushman analyzes cases and decisions of the Supreme Court. Focusing on minimum wage laws and labor rights provide evidence to his theory of how...

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