Discussion Questions for William Leuchtenburg’s The Supreme Court Reborn:
The Constitutional Revolution in the Age of Roosevelt.
- How does legal or constitutional history as practiced by Leuchtenburg
differ from Linda Przybysewski’s study of Justice Harlan? Which is more
- Who are the "agents of change" in Leuchtenburg’s telling of the
Constitutional Revolution of 1937? FDR, government bureaucrats at the
Department of Justice, Congress?
- Are you convinced that there was a Constitutional Revolution in 1937? What
makes this period revolutionary, if at all?
- Is Leuchtenburg too dismissive of the argument that the post-1937 Supreme
Court was simply returning to earlier case precedents? Is the Supreme Court
- Is the "Constitutional Revolution" simply an example of power politics
unconnected to underlying legal issues?
- Given the overwhelming mandate of the 1936 election, did FDR have other
options in responding to the opposition by the Supreme Court to New Deal
- What were the short-term and long-term effects on federal power as a
result of the court-packing conflict?
- Do you think Leuchtenburg proves his claim that the "Court squabble"
undermined support for the New Deal? How do you reconcile that position with
his claim that the squabble also legitimated "the vast expansion of the power
of government in American life?"
- What is the significance of Leuchtenburg’s claim that Roosevelt’s court
plan was inevitable and not capricious (p. 131)?
- How does the essay on the Buck v. Bell case fit into Leuchtenburg’s
argument about a Constitutional Revolution?