The President, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court

June 19, 1935

Report Outline
Roosevelt Demand for Expansion of Federal Powers
Presidential Challenges to Supreme Court's Authority
Efforts to Restrict Supreme Court's Veto Power
Methods of Revising the Constitution

Roosevelt Demand for Expansion of Federal Powers

President's Reaction to Supreme Court N. R. A. Decision

Legislation extending the National Recovery Act until April 1, 1936, but confining it strictly within the constitutional limits to federal power set forth by the Supreme Court in its decision of May 27 in the Schechter case, was approved by President Roosevelt on June 14, two days before the act would have expired by limitation. At his now-famous press conference of May 31, however, the President clearly indicated his own desire to regain for the, federal government the wide regulatory powers denied to it by the Court.

The President declared that the biggest question before the country in years—a question which, in the final analysis, would have to be decided by the people—was whether or not to restore to the national government the powers that were vested in every other national government in the world—the right to enact and administer laws having to do with national economic and social problems. He said he did not mean that the people's decision would have to be made this autumn or this winter, but over a period of five to ten years. He was unable to suggest any specific way of accomplishing his purpose except through amendment of the Constitution.

No constitutional amendment has yet been proposed in Congress on behalf of the administration, although such action has been urged in many quarters. President Green of the American Federation of Labor, in a radio speech June 8, said: “I am confident I correctly appraise the state of mind and correctly express the sentiments of the working people of the nation in stating that if the Constitution cannot be interpreted in the light of present-day facts it should be amended so as to suit the needs of existing economic and social conditions.” On the previous day the executive council of the Federation had expressed its disappointment with the President's decision to continue for the present with a “skeleton N. R. A.” and voted to sponsor an amendment to the Constitution. It was said that the amendment might take the form of a proposal for federal licensing of corporations doing an interstate business, such licenses to be withheld or revoked if these organizations failed to recognize collective bargaining and to maintain certain other standards.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Constitution and Separation of Powers
Sep. 07, 2012  Re-examining the Constitution
Jan. 29, 1988  Treaty Ratification
Mar. 27, 1987  Bicentennial of the Constitution
Jan. 31, 1986  Constitution Debate Renewed
Mar. 16, 1979  Calls for Constitutional Conventions
Jul. 04, 1976  Appraising the American Revolution
Sep. 12, 1973  Separation of Powers
Jul. 12, 1972  Treaty Ratification
Apr. 19, 1967  Foreign Policy Making and the Congress
Mar. 05, 1947  Contempt of Congress
May 10, 1945  The Tariff Power
Jul. 01, 1943  Executive Agreements
Jun. 01, 1943  Advice and Consent of the Senate
May 24, 1943  Modernization of Congress
Jan. 18, 1943  The Treaty Power
Aug. 24, 1942  Congress and the Conduct of War
May 09, 1940  Congressional Powers of Inquiry
Nov. 09, 1939  Participation by Congress in Control of Foreign Policy
Apr. 21, 1937  Revision of the Constitution
Feb. 24, 1936  Advance Opinions on Constitutional Questions
Oct. 04, 1935  Federal Powers Under the Commerce Clause
Jun. 19, 1935  The President, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court
Sep. 10, 1928  The Senate and the Multilateral Treaty
Dec. 16, 1926  The Senate's Power of Investigation
Oct. 03, 1924  Pending Proposals to Amend the Constitution
Powers and History of the Presidency
Separation of Powers
Supreme Court History and Decisions