The Four Horsemen’s Last Ride
The majority struck down one New Deal measure after another until finally, in frustration, Franklin Roosevelt embarked on an ill-advised scheme to “pack” the Court with justices friendly to his program. Some of the New Deal had been anticipated in Roosevelt’s campaign speeches and in earlier strains of Progressivism: a reforestation program to employ youth, public power development, regulation of utilities and the stock market, economic planning and cooperation with business, and repeal of Prohibition. Roosevelt had been trained as a lawyer, and he knew that even as Congress rushed to enact the New Deal, at some point the legislation would wind up before the Supreme Court. The New Deal’s only victory in 1935 and 1936 came in Chief Justice Hughes’s narrow ruling upholding the Tennessee Valley Authority. The attack by the Court’s conservatives on the New Deal and on efforts by the states to address the Depression seemed relentless.