President Franklin Roosevelt, buoyed by a landslide re-election victory in 1936, and frustrated by several of the elements of his “New Deal” being struck down in court, had a plan to change that. The Judicial Procedures Reform Bill (common called the “Court-Packing Bill”) proposed that the President could appoint one new Supreme Court Justice for every standing justice over the age of 70. If passed, the Supreme Court could have been expanded to as many as 15 justices.
The controversial legislative initiative was immediately denounced by Roosevelt’s opponents, who saw it as FDR’s efforts to “pack” the court with new members favorable to his economic strategies for the country.
On July 22, 1937, Congress, by a vote of 70-22, voted down Roosevelt’s proposal. However, FDR was able to sway two standing justices to come over to his side on two key New Deal elements, and thus both the National Labor Relations Act and the Social Security Act were later passed into law. And by the time his three terms in office were up in 1942, Roosevelt was able to name several new appointees to the Court.
The number of Supreme Court justices remains nine to this day.
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