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Supreme Court often agreed with them. Through the mid-1930s, the Courtcontinued to rule that certain aspects of New Deal programs went beyond theauthority of Congress to regulate commerce. FDR’s frustration with the Courtprompted him to suggest what ultimately was nicknamed his “Court-packingplan.” Knowing he could do little to change the minds of those already on theCourt, FDR suggested enlarging its size from nine to thirteen justices. This planwould have given him the opportunity to pack the Court with a majority ofjustices predisposed toward the constitutional validity of the New Deal.VIEWHOW DID FDR'S PUBLIC ACTIONS CHANGE CONCEPTIONS OF FEDERALISM?MMI Hotspot Image VIEW: HOW DID FDR'S PUBLIC ACTIONS CHANGE CONCEPTIONSOF FEDERALISM?
This cartoon illustrates FDR’s difficulties garnering support from the Supreme Court for the economic andsocial programs he believed were necessary to end the Great Depression. To coerce support from theCourt to transform the federal–state relationship, FDR proposed his Court-packing plan, which was metwith great opposition. The plan, however, seemed to convince a majority of justices to overturn theCourt’s earlier decisions and to support the constitutionality of New Deal programs.Columbus DispatchEven though Roosevelt was popular, the Court-packing plan was not.51Congressand the public expressed outrage over even the suggestion of tampering with aninstitution of government. But the Court appeared to respond to this threat. In1937, it reversed its series of anti–New Deal decisions, concluding that Congress(and therefore the national government) had broad authority to legislate in anyarea as long as what was regulated affected commerce in any way. The Court also
upheld the constitutionality of most of the massive New Deal relief programs,including the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, which authorized collectivebargaining between unions and employees;52the Fair Labor Standards Act of1938, which set a national minimum wage; and, the Agricultural Adjustment Actof 1938, which provided crop subsidies to farmers.53Congress then used thesenewly recognized powers to legislate in a wide range of areas, includingmaximum hour laws and regulation of child labor.The New Deal dramatically changed the federal system. Most political scientistslikened the federal system before the 1930s to a layer cake: in most policy areas,each level or layer of government—national, state, and local—had clearly definedpowers and responsibilities. By contrast, the metaphor of marble-cake federalismrefers to what political scientists callcooperative federalism, a term thatdescribes the intertwined relations among the national, state, and localgovernments that began during this period (seeFigure 3.4). States began totake a secondary, albeit important, cooperative role in the scheme of governance,as did many cities.

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Term
Spring
Professor
Dr. Wanless
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