FDR blasts Supreme Court at victory dinner

WASHINGTON, March 5, 1937 (UPI) - Opposition flared anew today among the foes of President Roosevelt as the aftermath of his withering attack last night on the Supreme Court.

Jolted by the incisive flow of the President in his "Victory Dinner" speech last night, opponents of the court reorganization plan armed to strike back with equal zeal.


Opposition senators were framing an immediate reply to the President's expected defense of his Supreme Court plan in his "fireside chat" next Tuesday night.

Plans already have been made to launch a nation-wide radio answer to the President's challenge of last night in which he demanded immediate action.

Senators in both parties - Democratic and Republican - 12 or 15 of them - have been drafted to lead the onslaught of the opposition. It was expected that a definite spokesman for the group would be named today.

Meantime, as the opposing tide to the President's battle to reorganize the Supreme Court was rising here, reports from all parts of the country showed that reaction to his speech was mixed.

President Roosevelt himself said that seven out of every eight telegrams he had received at the White House supported his views. Overnight telegrams of congratulations came from all parts of the United States.


Among the commentators were:

Sen. Edward R. Burke of Nebraska: "I commend the President for his eloquent statements of the splendid objects he had in mind. I utterly condem the method by which he proposes to reach that goal. His program will result in a serious setback to the march of democracy."

Sen. Burton K. Wheeler of Montana: "I feel that the President's speech was full of errors and that he laid up to the Supreme Court such events as dust storms and floods."

Sen. Joseph C. O'Mahoney (D., Wyo.): "The greatest speech he ever made. Maybe he has just begun to fight.

William Green, president of the American Federation of Labor: "It will arouse the people to realization of what the judiciary reorganization plan really means."

Sydney Hillman, president of the International Garment Workers' Union: "It will instill greater confidence in the masses. There is no question the people will be in back of him."

President Roosevelt was confronted by a Senate almost evenly divided on its stand on the Supreme Court changes.

His foes here today were saying that he had failed to meet the charge the he seeks to "pack" the court.

Tentative plans of the opposition include:


Reply by a prominent senator in the Senate next Monday.

Decision to summon opposition witnesses of national reputation and liberal tendencies to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the court bill starting next week.

Proposal to introduce a resolution in the Senate to make it a misdemeanor for any official or employee of the executive branch except the President to speak or write articles in an effort to influence the public or Congress in regard to any legislation.

Mobilization of the President's foes came as the words of his dramatic speech in which he sounded the call of "Now! Now! Now!" like the inexorable ticking of a mighty clock were ringing in their ears.

The challenge was sounded here last night at the "Victory Dinner," where gleaming shirt-fronted Democrats were on parade at $100 per plate.

But through the night the "Great Voice" reached over the airwaves to listening millions.

In a lonely ranch on wind-swept Western prairies came the Voice:

"Here is the dust bowl beginning to blow again - Now!"

Among the hungry dwellers in tenements of the industrial cities the Voice sounded:

"Here are thousands upon thousands of men and women laboring for long hours in factories for inadequate pay - Now!"


Far in the Southland from the radio in a farmer's home came the words:

"Here are thousands upon thousands of farmers wondering whether next year's prices will meet their mortgage interest - Now!"

Crowded around the loudspeaker in the sooty towns of Pennsylvania's coal towns, dialers heard:

"Here are thousands upon thousands of children who should be at school instead of working in mines and mills - Now!"

Scattered along the shores of the Mississippi, Ohio and other great rivers of the land the Voice went on:

"Here are spring floods threatening to roll again down our river valleys - Now!"

In the cottages of the relief workers and the jobless, East, West, North and South, came:

"Here is one-third of a nation ill-nourished, ill-clad, ill-housed - Now!"

Within the homes of auto workers in Detroit, tire workers in Ohio and steel workers in Pennsylvania the voice sounded:

"Here are strikes more far-reaching than we have ever known, costing millions of dollars - Now!"

It was a dramatic climax to a speech which summoned support from agriculture and labor in the President's campaign for reorganization of the Supreme Court.

The President warned that the majority decisions of the high court on vital New Deal legislation made it impossible for the Administration to aid farmers and the workers and imperiled the TVA and social security programs.


He attacked the Supreme Court and the judiciary directly - and he promised to do so again in his fireside chat to the nation next Tuesday night - and as many times thereafter as he felt necessary to achieve his purpose of making democracy work.

"You know who assumed the power to veto and did veto," the first New Deal farm and labor legislative program, he said to his audience last night.

"If we do not have the courage to lead the American people where they want to go, someone else will - if we would keep the faith -if we would make democracy succeed, I say we must act - now."

The chief executive definitely removed himself as a third-term candidate for the White House and said that his greatest ambition was to turn over to his successor on Jan. 20, 1941, "a nation which has proved that the democratic form and methods of national government can and will succeed."

He made only a passing reference to the state of the nation when he took over the presidency. Pointing out that Democrats here and in hundreds of cities throughout the nation were celebrating the 1936 victory, Mr. Roosevelt said that future celebrations depended on whether the party continues on its present course and solves human and industrial problems.


"And if I have aught to say, it will continue on its course and it will solve those problems," he said sternly.

Mr. Roosevelt pointed out that it took two generations to decide the issue of slavery. Foremost among present problems, he said, it that of providing economic freedom for the wage earner, the farmer and the small businessman. These, the President emphasized, "will not wait at all."

Step by step he traced New Deal reversals at the hands of the Supreme Court. He noted that in the 1936 campaign he promised continuation of efforts to aid farmers and that the Administration had only begun to fight.

"Neither individually nor as a party can we postpone and run from that fight on advice of defeatist lawyers," the President said.

"But, I defy anyone to read the majority opinion invalidating the AAA and tell us what we can do for agriculture in this session of Congress with any reasonable certainty that what we do will not be nullified as unconstitutional."

The Administration, Mr. Roosevelt continued, "made a gallant and sincere effort to raise wages, reduce hours, to abolish child labor and to eliminate unfair trade practices."

"And what happened?" he asked. "You know who assumed the power to veto, and did veto that program."


In quick succession, the President said, the court killed the railroad retirement act, the NRA and the Guffey coal act just as 20 years before it had outlawed the child labor act. Then, commenting on the invalidation of the New York minimum wage law for women and minors, the chief executive said:

"Soon thereafter the nation was told by a judicial pronunciamento that although the Federal Government had thus been rendered powerless to touch the problem of hours and wages, the states were equally helpless and that it pleased the 'personal economic predilections' of a majority of the court that we live in a nation where there is no legal power anywhere to deal with its most difficult practical problems - a no man's land of final futility."

Mr. Roosevelt declared that the Administration still hoped that the last of its labor legislation - the Wagner-Connery act - "may yet escape final condemnation in the highest court." But, he quickly added, the language of the courts in relation to other laws have made legality of the Wagner Act uncertain.

He accused the courts twice of encouraging corporations to defy, rather than obey, the law through their decisions and inunctions.

As in the case of agricultural legislation, the President said, Democrats "cannot afford, either individually or as a party, to postpone or run from that fight on advice of defeatist lawyers." Likewise he added that it appeared impossible for the Administration to aid the worker without having legislation in that direction voided.


With only two of nine projected TVA dams completed, Mr. Roosevelt continued, there was no flood damage in the Tennessee Valley this winter. "But," he asked, "how can we confidently complete the Tennessee Valley project or extend the idea to the Ohio and other valleys while the lowest courts have not hesitated to paralyze its operations by sweeping injunctions?"

The Ohio River and the dust bowl, Mr. Roosevelt went on, "are not conversant with the habits of the interstate commerce clause."

"But, we shall never be safe in our lives, in our property or in the heritage of our soil until we have somehow made the interstate commerce clause conversant with the habits of the Ohio River and the dust bowl."

Again assailing the "advice of defeatist lawyers," the President snapped:

"Let them try that advice on sweating men piling sandbags on the levees at Cairo."

The language of the decisions already rendered and the "widespread refusal to obey the law incited by the attitude of the courts" create doubts and difficulties for almost "everything else for which we have promised to fight," the chief executive said.

In this category he listed "help for the crippled, for the blind, for the mothers, insurance for the unemployed, security for the aged, protection of the consumer against monopoly and speculation, protection of the investor, the wiping out of slums, cheaper electricity for the homes and on the farms."


"You and I owe it to ourselves individually and as a party and as a nation to remove those doubts and difficulties," the President said.

He emphasized the need of immediate action.

"Every delay creates risks of intervening events which make more and more difficult an intelligent, speedy and democratic solution of our difficulties," he warned. He said he was unwilling to postpone one moment beyond absolute necessity the "times when we can free from legal doubt those policies which offer a progressive solution of our problem."

The roar of opposition to the New Deal today, the President said, is the "best evidence in the world that we have begun to keep our promise, that we have begun to move against conditions under which one third of this nation is still ill-nourished, ill-clad and ill-housed."

The "tumult and shouting have broken forth anew - and from substantially the same elements of opposition," he asserted.

Mr. Roosevelt did not allude to the congressional split over his judiciary reorganization program nor did he mention the Sumners bill, which he signed last Monday, permitting justices of the Supreme Court to retire on full pay at 70 years of age provided they have been on the bench for 10 years.


"We gave warning last November that we had only just begun to fight," the President continued. "Did some people really believe we did not mean it? Well - I meant it, and you meant it."

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