The Supreme Court in a Free Society

By Alpheus Thomas Mason; William M. Beaney | Go to book overview

VIII·
CONSTITUTION OF POWERS OR OF RIGHTS?

INVALIDATION OF A DOZEN NEW Deal measures, some of them central to the administration's recovery effort, had put the New Deal firmly on the rack of unconstitutionality. Loud acclared resounded among adherents to the status quo. Raoul E. Desvernine, vice-president of the American Liberty League, declared that "the Judiciary has again proved itself to be the bulwark of defense against the subtle and skillful manipulation of democratic processes to achieve unsanctioned theories." Herbert Hoover expressed his heartfelt thanks "to Almighty God for the Constitution and the Supreme Court." "I am happy to report," Chief Justice Hughes remarked in his American Law Institute address, May 1936, "that the Supreme Court is still functioning." Members and guests of the Institute vigorously applauded the announcement, obliging the speaker "to pause for more than two minutes."

All this rejoicing was in response to the stark fact that in certain crucial cases the Justices of the Supreme Court, usually only five or six, had rendered government impotent. "The general purpose of the court conservatives is plain," one pro-Roosevelt newspaper

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