August 17, 1935 - Editorial - Curbing the Court, by George Lorimer
Many of the problems plaguing the country today are so complex that it is a great relief to face one which leaves no doubt as to just what is right and what is wrong. This is the case with the proposals to curb the functions of the Supreme Court, which have suddenly sprung up since the NRA decision. In the first place, these propositions lack the element of good sportsmanship. Behind them lies the all-too-plain implication that the umpire is useful only so long as he agrees with the home team.
But to weigh these proposals specifically, it should be noted that they rest upon a very shortsighted and superficial view. Mr David Lawrence has performed a service by publishing conspicuously in his United States News the figures which show how many acts of Congress have been held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. In 146 years of legislative history, Congress has enacted 24,016 public acts and resolutions. Of this total, only 59 have been held unconstitutional, in whole or in part, by decisions of the Supreme Court.
In passing on the unconstitutionality of the 59 acts it has voided since 1789, the Court had to decide 70 cases. 27 of those 70 were decided unanimously, including four of the New Deal measures. (pg. 22)
Comments: If we do the math, we can see that, up until 1935, only one-fourth of one percent of the acts of Congress since the nation began were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. What does this mean? Simple. It means that Congress, up until the New Deal, respected the Constitution and tried to make sure the legislation they wrote did not violate the Constitution. But with the New Deal all this changed. In addition to confiscating all the gold in the country, perhaps it would have been a good idea to confiscate, under criminal penalties, all copies of the Constitution too. After all the copies of the Constitution were confiscated, they could have been recycled and made into rolls of paper that would be used in the bathroom stalls at the Capitol. The original Constitution, after it was recycled, could have been placed in President Roosevelt's personal bathroom at the White House.