May 11, 2010 Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court Is Subject of Book Discussion

"Supreme Power” Documents FDR’s Plan to "Pack” the High Court

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

In the years before World War II, Franklin Roosevelt's fiercest, most unyielding opponent was neither a foreign power nor "fear itself.” It was the United States Supreme Court.

Beginning in 1935, in a series of decisions devastating to FDR’s agenda, the Supreme Court left much of his New Deal plans in ruins. In an effort to strike back, the president devised a daring plan to expand the court to 15 justices and to "pack” the new seats with liberals who shared his belief in an expanded version of the Constitution.

Jeff Shesol’s new book, "Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court” (W.W. Norton, 2010) recounts this fiery chapter in American history. He will discuss and sign his work on Friday, May 21, at noon in the West Dining Room on the sixth floor of the Library of Congress’ James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. This Books & Beyond program of the Center for the Book is co-sponsored with the Library’s Manuscript Division, where Shesol conducted much of his research. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

The ensuing fight over FDR’s plan engulfed the White House, the Supreme Court, Congress and the nation. The final verdict was a shock. According to Shesol, "It dealt FDR the biggest setback of his life, split the Democratic Party and set the stage for a future era of Republican dominance. Yet the battle also transformed America’s political and constitutional landscape, hastening the nation’s march into the modern world.”

Shesol’s book is also the subject of a discussion on Facebook. The new Books & Beyond Book Club is available at Here readers can discuss books, the authors of which have appeared or will appear in this series. The site also offers links to webcasts of these events and asks readers to talk about what they have seen and heard in those webcasts.

The Center for the Book ( was established by Congress in 1977 "to use the resources and prestige of the Library of Congress to promote books, reading, literacy and libraries.” With its many educational programs that reach readers of all ages, through its support of the National Book Festival and through its dynamic state centers in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Center for the Book has developed a nationwide network of organizational partners dedicated to promoting the wonders and benefits of reading. The center also oversees the new website, with its exclusive "Exquisite Corpse Adventure” serialized story.


PR 10-109
ISSN 0731-3527