View Full Version : The Supreme Court and FDR's Power-Grab

03-30-2010, 08:02 AM
March 29, 2010
The Supreme Court and FDR's Power-Grab
By J.R. Dunn
How great a chance do we have to overthrow ObamaCare in the courts? To answer that question, we need to look into that bleak pit of falsehood and mendacity that America's left would like us to ignore at all costs: the historical record.

We need to look at the original effort to nationalize the American economy, the one attempted by Obama's model, Franklin D. Roosevelt, by means of the New Deal. FDR was never quite clear about what he wanted to do. He was clear about the goal, but not about how to get there. Not unlike Obama, he left that problem to various retainers -- in this case, the members of the Brain Trust.

The two key Brain Trusters were Adolf Berle and Rexford G. Tugwell. Both men were professors at Columbia, and both were of one mind concerning the solutions to America's economic problems: collectivism, centralization, and state control.

Berle was the author (with economist Gardner Means) of "The Modern Corporation and Private Property," an influential economics text still read today. According to Berle, the American corporation had gone out of control and could be tamed only through government intervention. Tugwell had traveled to the USSR and fascist Italy and liked what he saw. Of Mussolini's Italy, he said, "It's the cleanest ... most efficiently operating piece of social machinery I've ever seen. It makes me envious." So overwhelmed was he that he was moved to put his feelings into poetry:

I have gathered my tools and my charts.
My plans are finished and practical.
I shall roll up my sleeves... and make America over.

That was the mentality that oversaw the establishment of the Roosevelt administration's major effort at overcoming the Depression, the National Recovery Authority. The NRA was the core organization intended to lead the United States back to prosperity. It also embodied the first serious attempt at the socialization of American society.

The NRA organized industries, from the largest corporation down to the shabbiest mom & pop store, into trade associations called "code authorities." Businesses were asked to accept a government-established "blanket code" of practice covering minimum wages, maximum hours, the abolition of child labor, and a commitment against raising prices. Each industry would then be allowed to write its own code governing operations and marketing.

What went unmentioned, then and later, was the fact that the NRA was adapted almost entirely from "corporatism," the economic system of Italian fascism. Italian industry was divided into state-run "corporatives", which set hours, wages, working conditions, and industrial policy, the same as the code authorities. (Curiously, coming from a die-hard anti-cleric such as Mussolini, the concept was originally Catholic.) Mussolini considered the corporate state to be a "third way" between capitalism and socialism, providing all the benefits of government control with none of the drawbacks of expropriation as practiced in the USSR. Tugwell and Berle appeared to agree.

Much in the way of the amusing, obnoxious, and appalling went on under the NRA (including the hiring of an American Duce to run the thing, Nuremberg-type torchlight parades to celebrate its debut, and the establishment of a secret police force in New York to ferret out violators). Detailed accounts can be found in Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism and Amity Shlaes' The Forgotten Man. But what is of interest to us is what occurred when the NRA collided with the Supreme Court.

The proximate cause of the encounter was a gaggle of sick chickens. The Schecter Poultry Corporation was a New York company run by four brothers. In the summer of 1934, the Schecter brothers ran afoul of the NRA's Red Guards and were arrested for violating the Live Poultry Code. Among the numerous violations was a count of selling "unfit chickens." The Schecters were found guilty on eighteen counts with the verdict upheld on appeal. The brothers then took the case to the Supreme Court.

CONTINUED (http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/the_supreme_court_and_fdrs_pow.html)