Friday, August 10, 2007

Is Justice Breyer Correct Saying "It is not often so few have quickly changed so much”

I was chatting with a liberal friend of mine who was very upset at recent Supreme Court decisions quoting Justice Stephen G. Breyer who said "It is not often so few have quickly changed so much". See,1,122
1510.story?coll=la-headlines-frontpage Breyer's comment was made when he was dissenting in the cases that struck down the use of race for school assignment plans in public schools in Louisville and Seattle.

I asked what about Associate Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts and a "switch in time"? See President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs were consistently declared unconstitutional and then Justice Roberts decided they were OK and very quickly the same laws became constitutional.

After Roosevelt became President in 1933, Congress passed much New Deal legislation. "Over the next few years Roberts and the other justices ruled unconstitutional the National Recovery Administration (NRA), the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) and ten other New Deal laws." For example in Schechter Poultry Corp. the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the regulations including price and wage fixing set forth by the NRA were unconstitutional.

"On 2nd February, 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt made a speech attacking the Supreme Court" outlining his proposal to pack the Supreme Court. "On 29th March, [Associate Supreme Court Justice Owen] Roberts announced that he had changed his mind about voting against minimum wage legislation..the Social Security Act and the National Labour Relations Act (NLRA) and by a 5-4 vote they were now declared to be constitutional."

Now that was a situation where "so few have quickly changed so much", that is to those who know United States history. By 1942 the Court ruled unanimously that the Federal Government had the power to set the prices and regulate what a farmer could grow on his own land even if he did not sell it, but fed the wheat to his own livestock.

Understanding this one could conclude that Justice Breyer is a dope. However, it is very unlikely that Justice Breyer does know about this Court history, but was deliberately trying to mislead citizens including my friend.

Letter to the Editor published in August 10, 2007 Laguna Beach Independent.


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