September 24, 2020

1933, 1954, 2020 SCOTUS

By Glenn

1954 was a pivotal year in the history of the United States.  Since 1933, a coalition of representatives from Northern cities and rural Southern states had worked to improve the lives of average Americans. Franklin Delano Roosevelt built that coalition. 

The fruits of the coalition were collectively known as the New Deal, or the welfare state.  The success rested on the Constitutional power to provide for the “General Welfare.” The welfare state legislation started with employment benefits, moved to Social Security and culminated on Medicare and Medicaid.

Today, half of all federal spending flows to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  The Federal Courts have routinely upheld Congress’ constitutional power to spend to promote the “General Welfare.”

Public support for the welfare state was overwhelming.  FDR won four terms.  Harry Truman then ran on the Fair Deal and served for eight more years.  Business conservatives sued to defeat liberal policies and lost in the US Supreme Court. They had no way to stop this popular revolution.  

In 1953 Truman turned the keys of the Whitehouse over to Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Even though Eisenhower was a Republican, he took no action to cut down the tree of the welfare state.  In fact he made sure that tree continued to bear fruit for America.

Ike expanded the federal government.  He proposed, and built, an interstate highway system.   Ike supported the National Defense Education Act of 1958.  It promoted science education from elementary schools to universities. 

In the following years Ike’s efforts bore fruit.  Federal investments in computer technology produced breakthroughs in commercial mainframes, personal computers and eventually the internet.

At the same time, however, Southern conservatives grew more frustrated.  African American activists at the NAACP were not satisfied with separate but equal.  They used federal courts to demand their full constitutional rights.  That meant dismantling Jim Crow and protecting Civil Rights. 

In 1954 the United States Supreme Court handed a death sentence for Jim Crow.  Brown vs the Board of Education required states to desegregate public education.   Southern conservatives fumed. 

One hundred and one Southern politicians signed a Manifesto denouncing judicial activism as an abuse of power.  They claimed that the liberal US Supreme Court attacked the “habits, traditions, and way of life” of the Southern States. Business conservatives saw their opening drive a wedge between Southern workers and the Democratic Party. 

Eventually, Southern and Business conservatives joined forced. They launched a culture war against “liberals, minorities and feminists.”  Business conservatives would roll back the New Deal.  Southern conservatives would roll back Civil Rights. The only thing that stood in their way was the US Supreme Court.  Without a liberal Supreme Court, will we lose Social Security, Medicare and Civil Rights?

Spread the love


You must be logged in to post a comment.