FDR vs. the Supreme Court: The Battle for the Meaning of the American Constitution
Volume 7 | Issue IV | December 2023
Commonwealth School ’24
My encounter with history started at an early age. Being born in a region that, as Winston Churchill once famously quipped, produces more history than it can consume, I always wanted to know more about why history matters so much in our lives. However, it was not until my history classes at Commonwealth that I had a real opportunity to engage with history more seriously. The essay published in The Schola was originally written for US History class and deals with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s infamous battle with the Supreme Court over the meaning of the US Constitution. Veering from more traditional arguments about the outcome of this debate, I argue that it resulted in “a more people-friendly form of ‘popular’ constitutionalism that fundamentally transformed the meaning of the American Constitution.” In my history class, I learned a lot about the importance of primary sources for historical research. I was taught to think as a historian and to critically engage with various materials. In my next revisions of the research paper, this lesson helped me to delve deeper into my research topic and to develop more critical and focused arguments about the importance of FDR’s New Deal constitutionalism. While working on the paper, I found myself amid clashing interpretations regarding the constitutional legacy of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s conflict with the Supreme Court over the New Deal legislation. After reading relevant primary and secondary sources, I was able to sharpen the focus of my investigation and reach a conclusion different from the mainstream accounts. Outside academics, I enjoy reading, writing, and walking my dog.