Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Timothy Thurber


On February 5, 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt submitted to Congress “The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1937,” often simply called the Court-packing bill. The president hoped to circumvent the Court, which for years had been overturning New Deal programs, by appointing six new justices. However, the bill disguised its true intentions behind a veil of improving judicial efficiency. This misdirection backfired; the bill failed and Roosevelt’s popularity plummeted just months after a landslide reelection. This thesis examines the origins of the infamous Court-packing bill. It argues that Roosevelt was largely a background figure in the development of the plan, as he charged Attorney General Homer Cummings with finding a solution to the Court’s obstinacy. Cummings was the driving force behind the bill, particularly with regards to keeping it secret from other advisers and hiding its true intentions. Roosevelt’s most crucial mistake was in relying almost exclusively on his cunning attorney general.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2011

Included in

History Commons