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Gallup Vault

Gallup Vault: A Supreme Court Power Play

Gallup Vault

Gallup Vault: A Supreme Court Power Play

From the Gallup Vault: On Feb. 5, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed adding up to six voting members to the U.S. Supreme Court, one for every 70-year-old justice who refused to retire. This was instantly perceived as an attempt to stack the court with liberal justices who would preserve Roosevelt's New Deal programs. A month later, Gallup found 47% of Americans favoring Roosevelt's plan and 53% opposing it.

1937: Support for Franklin D. Roosevelt's Court Packing Plan, 1937

Americans remained closely divided for the next several months until the plan became moot. Roosevelt's side started winning Supreme Court cases, nullifying Roosevelt's need for the plan -- and it ultimately died in the U.S. Senate.

As we would expect today, these attitudes were highly partisan. Seventy percent of Democrats nationwide favored Roosevelt's proposal, while nearly all Republicans -- 92% -- opposed it. Of additional interest, and perhaps relevant to the plan's demise, a special Gallup sample of lawyers at the same time found just 23% in favor and 77% opposed.

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