SAT Subject US History Practice Question 906: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 906

77. Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to pack the Supreme Court in 1937 because

A. the justices were too inexperienced to deal with the Great Depression.
B. the court had declared some New Deal legislation unconstitutional.
C. Roosevelt felt that Congress had become more powerful than the president.
D. the court refused to allow the president to implement the Lend-Lease Act.
E. the court had demonstrated liberal tendencies in interpreting the New Deal legislation.

Correct Answer: B


The 1937 Court-Packing Scheme of FDR was a political maneuver by Roosevelt to ensure that no more New Deal legislation would be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, which, according to Roosevelt, consisted of "nine old men." FDR asked Congress to expand the size of the Court to 15 members, allowing him to appoint one new justice for every one of the justices over 70 years of age (there were six). In this way, he hoped to gain a majority on the Court that would favor his New Deal legislation. Many members of Congress viewed FDR's attempt with dismay. The justices were not too inexperienced (A); in Roosevelt's opinion, however, they were too old. Roosevelt contended that the Court, not the Congress (C), had become too powerful. The Lend-Lease Act (D) was not opposed by the Court and since it was implemented in 1941, could not be a reason for the Court-Packing Scheme, which occurred in 1937. In Roosevelt's opinion, the Court had not acted too liberally (E) but rather too conservatively on the New Deal legislation. The Court-Packing Scheme was never approved by Congress, but the Court began supporting New Deal legislation nevertheless.

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