Section One

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January 26, 1938: “You Can’t Have Everything”
Newspaper Enterprise Association

In February 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed legislation that would increase the number of judges on the Supreme Court, which had struck down many of his New Deal programs. Roosevelt saw the Court’s “nine old men” (six of the nine judges were seventy or older) as resisting the will of the president and Congress. The bill would allow the president to add a judge for each incumbent federal court judge who was seventy or older, which would give Roosevelt up to six nominations for the Supreme Court.

Although Congress utterly rejected his “court-packing” plan, within a year the Court began looking at his legislation more favorably, and Roosevelt was able to appoint a new judge. However, some feared that FDR was becoming too powerful. Days before Herblock made this cartoon, Senator Edward Burke (D-Neb.) spoke of a demagogic president claiming to be on “the side of the underprivileged” and pledging to lead them to “the promised land.”