This is the third post in a continuing series on the parallels between Presidents Obama and Roosevelt, the two Columbia University educated radicals who have done so much to increase the power of the federal government over the American people.
Today’s topic is the relationships between the Obama and Roosevelt White Houses and the US Supreme Court
President Obama drew the ire of conservatives in 2010 when he used his annual State of the Union speech as a platform for an attack on the Supreme Court over its decision in the “Citizens United” campaign finance case. This week, after receiving a Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House, retired justice John Paul Stevens defended Obama’s comments.
The Citizens United flap would not be the last time President Obama publicly bashed the Supreme Court. This April he fired a shot across the court’s bow over their upcoming decision on his Obamacare law.
President Obama’s public attacks on the court may be inappropriate and unusual, but they are not without precedent. Once again, Obama is following in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s footsteps.
As soon as he took office in 1933, President Roosevelt started engineering vast increases in the size and power of the federal government. His goal, as stated in his second inaugural address, was to make the government “an instrument of unimagined power for the establishment of a morally better world.”
When the Supreme Court overturned several of his most ambitious programs, FDR told reporters that the court was trying to send America back to “the horse and buggy age.” Soon after he announced his infamous “court packing” plan, in which he proposed to greatly increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court, so that he could fill the court with hand-picked left wingers without having to wait for any of the current justices to retire.
Fortunately for the nation, the public soon rallied to the defense of the Supreme Court, and nervous Democrats persuaded the President to drop his plan.
No President since then has ever hinted at changing the number of justices on the Supreme Court, although that may change if the current court overturns Obamacare when it announces its decision on the case later this month.