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Archives on the Air 301: Packing the Supreme Court – Joseph C. O’Mahoney Papers

The Judicial Act of 1869 established that the United States Supreme Court would consist of a chief justice and eight associate justices. This court structure reinforced the idea that the judicial branch was one of three co-equal branches of American government.

But beginning in 1935, the Supreme Court struck down several pieces of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation for being unconstitutional. President Roosevelt’s frustration with the court grew.

Soon a controversial plan was formed. Roosevelt proposed adding as many as 6 additional judges to the court, thus “packing” it in favor of his policies. He intended to neutralize the justices who disagreed with him.

Read Wyoming Senator Joseph C. O’Mahoney’s statements in opposition to the court “packing” plan in his papers at UW’s American Heritage Center.