Can presidents pack the supreme court? a micro- and macrolevel look at fdr

Michael Comiskey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The question of whether presidents can “pack” the Supreme Court has long concerned political scientists and historians. This paper examines the extent to which Franklin Roosevelt succeeded in appointing Supreme Court justices who would rule as he wished in three types of cases: Socioeconomic regulation, civil liberties, and presidential war powers. Based on the varying extent to which he achieved these goals, the different political and contextual circumstances applying to each area of jurisprudence, and the findings of literature that sheds light on the replicability of these circumstances, the article assesses the likelihood that modern presidents will succeed in packing the Court with justices who will meet presidential expectations. It concludes that despite Roosevelt's relative success at staffing the Court with New Dealers, his lesser success (or failure) on the other two goals provides a more pertinent lesson for students of modern presidential Supreme Court appointments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-33
Number of pages15
JournalCongress and the Presidency
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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