Emergency does not create power. Emergency does not increase granted power or remove or diminish the restrictions imposed upon power granted or reserved. The Constitution was adopted in a period of grave emergency. Its grants of power to the federal government… were determined in the light of emergency, and they are not altered by emergency…. Charles Evans Hughes


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FDR and Chief Justice Hughes : the president, the Supreme Court, and the epic battle over the New Deal James F. Simon New York : Simon & Schuster, 2012 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 461 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Charles Evans Hughes, three-quarter length portrait, standing, facing left [1908]

Charles Evans Hughes, three-quarter length portrait, standing, facing left [1908]

From the author of books on the bitter clashes between Jefferson and Marshall on the shaping of the nation’s constitutional future, and between Lincoln and Taney over slavery, secession, and the presidential war powers comes a story of Roosevelt and Hughes’s fight over the New Deal was the most critical struggle between an American president and a chief justice in the twentieth century.

Charles E. Hughes, Republican candidate for president [1916]

Charles E. Hughes, Republican candidate for president [1916]

The confrontation threatened the New Deal in the middle of the nation’s worst depression which had deepened severely between 1933 and 1936. The activist president bombarded the Democratic Congress with a fusillade of legislative remedies that shut down banks, regulated stocks, imposed industrial codes, rationed agricultural production, and employed a quarter million Democrats in the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Charles Evans Hughes and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Charles Evans Hughes and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

But the legislation faced constitutional challenges that found their way to the the Court, and its conservative majority, determined to preserve the freedoms – to succeed or fail – of the market system that had allowed the nation to grow and prosper – freedoms that had been enshrined in a constitution that limited government interference. Chief Justice Hughes often joined the Court’s conservatives to strike down major New Deal legislation.

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Frustrated, FDR proposed a Court-packing plan. His true purpose was to undermine the ability of the life-tenured Justices to thwart his buying an electoral mandate with the taxpayers money. Hughes proved more than a match for Roosevelt in the ensuing battle. In grudging admiration for Hughes, FDR said that the Chief Justice was the best politician in the country.

Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes (77 yrs. old) marking 10 yrs. of service. Appointed by Pres. Hoover Feb. 24, 1930. Feb. 24, 1940

Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes (77 yrs. old) marking 10 yrs. of service. Appointed by Pres. Hoover Feb. 24, 1930. Feb. 24, 1940

Despite the defeat of his plan, Roosevelt never lost his confidence finding it more convenient – like Lincoln before him – to ignore both the Constitution and the Court and herd us on the path shown by Wilson that led unltimate to Lyndon Johnson and finally to the current state of affairs where our free elections have become a choice between Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber.

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