In the early 90′s, I had 3 or 4 jury trials against defendant Yellow Cab company. The Taxi drivers would run into my client’s car and then Yellow Cab would offer little to settle the case.
Every time, the defense attorney would be Tom Moss; who was also Speaker of the House, for the Virginia General Assembly. After the 2nd jury verdict, Tom introduced a bill that next session, that became law.
It classified Taxi drivers as independent contractors; and limited Yellow Cab’s exposure and required insurance coverage to a maximum of $25,000. The next time I saw him, he just smiled and said something like, “Well, you won’t be getting Yellow Cab for any big verdicts”. The rules had changed!
In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was first elected as President by a landslide vote . He promised a New Deal of social and economic policies, to get America back to work. Once he got the law enacted, the US Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, held that the New Deal was unconstitutional and struck it down.
The Court then ruled against the Railroad Retirement Act; and then the National Industrial Act. This infuriated Roosevelt. He decided to “change the rules”. He came up with a name for the Court to express his contempt. He described the Court as the “Nine Old Men”.
When Roosevelt was re-elected by an even bigger voting margin in 1936, He thought he had a solution; A plan to change the Supreme Court. In 1937, he announced the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill. His idea… to appoint 6 more Justices and increase the Court to 15 members. It was branded as his attempt to “Pack the Court”.
Roosevelt’s enemies were against it; But, it was his friends who felt that it was “the gravest constitutional crisis since the Civil War”. (Roosevelt biographer Kenneth S. Davis) History records that his inability to garner support for this measure ultimately robbed him of political capital, that could have been focused on passage of his economic policies.
The final measure failure as documented by his biographers was a legacy that this idea of increasing the Court would never be “presented to the free representatives of the free people of America”. The footnote to all this is that the pendulum swung. The Court’s philosophy was in step with FDR.
The youngest justice, Owen J. Roberts, began to vote in the FDR leaning “column”, with the Court’s decisions coming down 5-4, in favor of FDR’s policies as law. Also, the “Old Nine Men” began to change as Justices retired and FDR made Court appointments. The nine Justices now became a “Roosevelt Court”.
For pic o’ day, I thought I’d go with the “Law of Grabbity”:
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