It’s not as if Democratic anger at Republicans’ hardball tactics makes the lessons of FDR’s failed bid to expand the Court less salient. Roosevelt’s plan was never popular with voters, and it provoked intense opposition from Democrats, who controlled the House and Senate, as well as Republicans.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Hatton Sumners refused to back the president’s bill. Roosevelt’s own vice president, John Nance Garner, was against it.
The Senate Judiciary Committee issued an adverse report on FDR’s plan that said it “does not accomplish any one of the objectives for which it was originally offered” and “violates all precedents in the history of our government.” The committee called the bill “a dangerous precedent” that “would undermine the independence of the courts,” violate “the spirit of the American Constitution,” subvert “the rights of individuals,” and weaken “the protection our constitutional system gives to minorities.”