FDR and Chief Justice Hughes by James F. Simon
The President, the Supreme Court, and the Epic Battle Over the New Deal

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

The confrontation threatened the New Deal in the middle of the nation’s worst depression. The activist president bombarded the Democratic Congress with a fusillade of legislative remedies that shut down insolvent banks, regulated stocks, imposed industrial codes, rationed agricultural production, and employed a quarter million young men in the Civilian Conservation Corps. But the legislation faced constitutional challenges by a conservative bloc on the Court determined to undercut the president. Chief Justice Hughes often joined the Court’s conservatives to strike down major New Deal legislation.

Frustrated, FDR proposed a Court-packing plan. His true purpose was to undermine the ability of the life-tenured Justices to thwart his popular mandate. 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. Despite the defeat of his plan, Roosevelt never lost his confidence and, like Hughes, never ceded leadership. He outmaneuvered isolationist senators, many of whom had opposed his Court-packing plan, to expedite aid to Great Britain as the Allies hovered on the brink of defeat. He then led his country through World War II.

About James F. Simon

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James F. Simon is the Martin Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus at New York Law School. He is the author of seven previous books on American history, law, and politics, including "What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States", and lives with his wife in West Nyack, New York.
Published February 7, 2012 by Simon & Schuster. 482 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Charles Evans Hughes (1862–1948) isn’t one of the more studied justices, though he presided over the Supreme Court during the historic New Deal era, and enjoyed a long, fascinating career, as Simon (Emeritus/New York Law School, Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney, 2006, etc.) develops in depth.

Feb 07 2012 | Read Full Review of FDR and Chief Justice Hughes:...

Publishers Weekly

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New York Law School prof Simon (Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney) spotlights the struggle between a conservative Court under Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, which struck down key New Deal measures in the 1930s, and a frustrated President Franklin Roosevelt, who counterattacked with a proposal ...

Oct 31 2011 | Read Full Review of FDR and Chief Justice Hughes:...

Book Reporter

He was a successful attorney, progressive two-term Governor of New York, Supreme Court Justice, Secretary of State, and finally reappointed to the Court as Chief Justice by Herbert Hoover in 1930.

Mar 08 2012 | Read Full Review of FDR and Chief Justice Hughes:...

Christian Science Monitor

The overlooked story of the hardworking justice who stood up to one of America's most popular presidents – and won a victory for posterity.

Feb 09 2012 | Read Full Review of FDR and Chief Justice Hughes:...


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Earlier today, the Supreme Court began to listen to six hours of oral arguments spread over three days in what may turn out to be the most important case it has overseen in decades.  The unusually long time afforded to the oral arguments – they normally last an hour – [...]

Mar 26 2012 | Read Full Review of FDR and Chief Justice Hughes:...


This book centers on two heroic 20th century public figures — Franklin Delano Roosevelt, one of the most popular presidents in modern American history, and Charles Evans Hughes, one of the greatest chief justices of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Feb 05 2012 | Read Full Review of FDR and Chief Justice Hughes:...

St. Louis Today

But he was a key figure in American history: a governor of New York, an associate justice on the Supreme Court, a losing presidential candidate in 1916, a secretary of state and then a return to the Supreme Court as chief justice.

Feb 04 2012 | Read Full Review of FDR and Chief Justice Hughes:...

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