Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

History’s Bad Ideas Are an Inspiration for Progressives

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

What we now consider stupid and dangerous ideas of the past, progressives see as useful in the present.

Even liberal historians usually label as disastrous two decisions by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration: the adoption of the Earl Warren-McClatchy newspaper inspired plan to intern Japanese-American citizens and the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937—better known as FDR “court-packing scheme.”

The latter was a crazy scheme to remake the Supreme Court, given that Roosevelt wanted no more judicial interference in the implementation of the New Deal. And yet he had no recourse until slow-coach judicial retirements opened up new appointments of compliant progressive justices. In the interim, the convoluted proposal would have allowed Roosevelt to select a new—and additional justice—to the Supreme Court for every sitting judge who had reached 70 years, 6 months, and had not retired. And in theory, he could pack on 6 more judges, creating a 15-member court with a progressive majority.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

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