« BACK  |  PRINT

RS

MEMBER DIARY

Mr. Obama Would Do Well to Learn from FDR About Unconstitutional Power Grabs

Turning Victory Into Defeat

In 1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt won reelection in a landslide against Alfred Landon of Kansas.  The landslide carried over to Congress where Democrats gained a supermajority that dominated the House of Representatives (328 to 107) and the Senate (77 to 19).  The President and the Democratic Party seemed unstoppable.  And then, FDR made a strategic error that brought it all crashing down.

In his desire to transform America, FDR continually found himself obstructed by the U.S. Supreme Court.  By 1936 the court had already struck down several New Deal programs – the Agricultural Adjustment Act and the National Recovery Administration – as unconstitutional.  Their decision on the Social Security Act and the Warner Act remained pending at the time of FDR’s reelection.  To protect his existing programs and clear the way for even more New Deal legislation, FDR felt that he had to deal with the Supreme Court.

He decided to do so by packing the existing Supreme Court with justices chosen by him.  Since he could not force the existing court justices to resign, he proposed legislation that would allow him to appoint an additional justice for every existing justice who was over 70 1/2 years old.  The Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 would have guaranteed a Supreme Court favorable to FDR and the New Deal.

Roosevelt had no qualms about the plan.  He felt that the election had given him a mandate for change and that the Constitutional separation of powers simply hindered his fulfillment of that mandate.  Something as trivial as the U.S. Constitution and the independence of the judiciary could not be allowed to stand in the way of progress and constructing a better society – perhaps he even did it for the children.

At the height of his power and prestige, FDR simply overplayed his hand.  The “court-packing” scheme backfired.  Member of his own party rose in revolt.  The American people were outraged.  Although FDR quickly shelved the plan and attempted to move on, the damage was done.  The momentum gained from the election was gone and with it the vision FDR held for his second term.  The President remained on defense for the next four years and then quietly put the New Deal out to pasture with the advent of World War II.

Tomorrow, the American people may well see a modern rendition of the “court-packing” scheme.  If rumors are true, Mr. Obama, fresh from his victory over McCain II, plans to renew his attack upon the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law by using Executive Orders to violate the Second Amendment.  Like FDR before him, Obama believes that he has a mandate from the people and that the U.S. Constitution should not be allowed to interfere with his exercise of that mandate.  And, just like FDR before him, an attack upon the Second Amendment and any attempt to disarm law abiding citizens will provoke a backlash from the American people.  The question is whether Democrats will have the guts to oppose such a blatant power grab or whether they will chose to face the wrath of the voters.

Mr. Obama is a bully who attempts to get his way by pushing others around and trash talking.  The leadership of the Republican Party has proven to be an easy target so the President has been allowed to swagger around Washington.  Tomorrow, he will attempt to bully the American people.  It will not work.  The President does not have the authority to violate the Second Amendment and America will not stand for it.

Let me say a final word to Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.  Some have speculated that you might go along with the President on gun control measures since you will not face the voters for another 6 years.  Rest assured that six years is not long enough when you mess with a mountain man’s guns.  The voters will remember, especially since a Senate seat just opened up in your state.

Get Alerts