The World and Everything in It: February 12, 2024
On Legal Docket, the Supreme Court considers whether a state can remove Donald Trump from the primary ballot; on the Monday Moneybeat, the status of commercial real estate in the United States; and on the World History Book, FDR’s plan to pack the Supreme Court. Plus, the Monday morning news
PREROLL: The World and Everything in It is made possible by listeners like us. My name is Jubal Marlatt and my beautiful wife Suzanne. We live in gorgeous Lake Stevens, Washington. I'm a nurse by trade, and we love listening to this program doing all sorts of things. I truly hope you enjoy today's show.
JENNY ROUGH, HOST: Good morning! Today on Legal Docket: Ballot bans. Can the state of Colorado stop Trump?
KAVANAUGH: The term "insurrection" jumps out, and the question is, the questions are: Who decides? Who decides whether someone engaged in it?
NICK EICHER, HOST: Also today the Monday Moneybeat. We have a new number one exporter to the U.S., and we’ll tell you what the term forex means.
And the WORLD History Book. Today a story of justice delayed.
AUDIO: When the word “guilty” rang out, you could hear these waves of joy as they cascaded down the hall…
ROUGH: It’s Monday, February 12th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Jenny Rough.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
ROUGH: Now the news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Biden phone call » President Biden is calling on Israel to hold off on a planned ground invasion in southern Gaza until it comes up with a credible plan to protect civilians in the city of Rafah.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
NETANYAHU: We are working out a detailed plan to do so. And that’s what we’ve done up till now. We’re not cavalier about this. This is part of our war effort to get civilians out of harm’s way. It’s part of Hamas’ effort to keep them in harm’s way.
The president and the prime minister spoke by phone on Sunday about the situation.
Palestinian officials said Israel hit Rafah with airstrikes last night.
Rafah/Netanyahu response to U.S. criticism » Prior to Sunday’s phone call, Netanyahu responded to Biden’s recent criticism. That president said last week that Israel’s response to the October Hamas terrorist attack…
BIDEN: Has been … over the top.
Netanyahu told ABC’s This Week:
NETANYAHU: I don't know exactly what he meant by that, but put yourself in Israel's shoes. We were attacked. Unprovoked attack, murderous attack on October 7th. The worst attack on Jewish people since the Holocaust.
He said given Israel’s size and the scale of the Hamas attack, it was the equivalent of 20 9-11s, and that America in that situation would likely respond just as strongly.
Egypt has threatened to suspend a peace treaty with Israel if it moves ahead with the Rafah operation.
But Netanyahu says …
NETANYAHU: We're doing everything we can to minimize civilian casualties and continue to do so. But one thing we're not going to do - is we're not going to let Hamas emerge victorious.
He says Rafah is Hamas’ last remaining stronghold, and abandoning a ground offensive there means losing the war.
Israel shows video of tunnel network under UNRWA HQ in Gaza » Meantime, Israeli Defense Forces — or IDF — has released new video footage of a sprawling Hamas tunnel network. This network ran under the Gaza headquarters of the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency known as UNRWA.
An IDF officer showed reporters around an underground communications center.
OFFICER: This place is of Hamas’ intelligence units, where they command most of the combat from here.
He showed a bundle of wires that had run up through the basement of the UNRWA building.
UNRWA officials said they had no knowledge of the tunnels.
The UN agency is already embroiled in a major scandal amid allegations that some of its employees actively participated in the Oct. 7th attack.
Special counsel reaction latest »Democrats and Republicans sparred on Sunday talk shows over special counsel Robert Hur’s report on Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons said of President Biden:
COONS: He was cleared completely, while Donald Trump faces 40 federal felony charges for obstruction of justice and refusing to protect our national secrets.
But Republicans see a double standard. The report said Biden willfully disclosed highly classified information about serious national security concerns.
GOP Sen. Tom Cotton:
COTTON: If Joe Biden isn’t going to face charges, Donald Trump shouldn’t either.
President Biden’s team is also trying to control the fallout from serious concerns raised in the report about his mental acuity. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer said the report only stated the obvious.
COMER: That Joe Biden’s mental capacity is diminished. I think we see that played out on a daily basis.
The report said the president struggled to remember major events in his life such as when he served as vice president or when his son Beau died.
Biden says that’s not true. And the White House is on the attack accusing the special counsel of mischaracterizing Biden’s mental sharpness for political reasons.
The report cited the president’s memory problems as one of the reasons for not pursuing criminal charges against him.
AUDIO: On this vote, the yeas are 67. The nays are 27. The motion is agreed to.
Senate approves funding for Ukraine, Israel, others » With that procedural vote on Sunday, the Senate advanced a $95-billion-dollar bill that would fund aid to Ukraine and Israel, among other things.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer:
SCHUMER: Ukraine is dangerously low on supplies, including ammo and air defenses. If America doesn’t assist Ukraine, Putin is all too likely to succeed.
Eighteen Republicans voted for it giving leaders in the upper chamber hope that it will survive a full vote on the Senate floor.
Russia drone swarm as Ukraine reshuffles military » Meanwhile, in Ukraine Russian forces attacked with nearly 50 drones over Ukraine in a six-hour barrage Sunday.
The Ukrainian air force said it was able to shoot down all but about five of the drones over nine different regions, including around Kyiv.
The attack comes as President Volodymyr Zelesnkyy continues to reshuffle his war cabinet. Zelenskyy just appointed Oleksandr Pavliuk, former deputy defense minister to be the new commander of Ukraine's ground forces.
Super Bowl » For the second straight season, the Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl Champions. WORLD’s Alex Carmenaty reports.
AUDIO: First and goal. Mahomes flings it, it’s there, Hardman, jackpot Kansas City.
ALEX CARMENATY: Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw a game winning touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman with less than ten seconds left to seal the win in the final seconds of overtime.
The Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 25-to-22 in Super Bowl 58.
Mahomes had 333 passing yards and two touchdowns and was named Super Bowl MVP for the third time in his career.
It was a back-and-forth affair. The 49ers had three different leads in the game, including one in overtime.
The Chiefs are the first team to win back to back Super Bowls since the New England Patriots did it in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
For WORLD, I’m Alex Carmenaty.
I'm Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: An obscure constitutional argument under the microscope on Legal Docket. Plus, the Monday Moneybeat.
This is The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s Monday morning, February 12th, 2024, and you’re listening to The World and Everything in It from WORLD Radio. Good morning! I’m Nick Eicher.
JENNY ROUGH, HOST: And I’m Jenny Rough. It’s time for Legal Docket. Our case today: Trump versus Anderson.
This one I reported from inside the court. But before I could get inside, I noticed the interest outside. Protesters had some opinions on Trump’s guilt.
PROTESTER: Trump is guilty! He’s criminal! Ninety-one indictments!
But the legal question at last week’s oral argument wasn’t a criminal one. In Trump versus Anderson the central question is whether states can bounce Trump from the ballot.
EICHER: It appears this year will mark Donald Trump’s fourth shot at the White House. You may not remember that Trump explored a run in the year 2000 as a Reform party candidate but dropped out. Sixteen years later he would run as a major-party candidate in 2016 and win, then ran again in 2020 and lost. And now he’s looking for a rematch with President Joe Biden. But this time, a group of voters has sued to try to stop him.
A group of six Colorado voters went to court and sought an order to remove Trump’s name from Colorado’s presidential primary ballot.
ROUGH: They argued he’s disqualified, because his role in the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, makes him an insurrectionist.
The Colorado Supreme Court agreed and issued the order to remove his name.
Now the U.S. Supreme Court has taken up the case.
But before we get to the legal issues in the case, let’s hear from a couple people who attended the Trump rally on January 6th.
Euni Evensen was one of them.
EUNI EVENSEN: So it took me three hours. So from eight, nine, ten. So ten o’clock my turn came.
She waited in line for three hours to get through a metal detector so she could stand on the Ellipse. That’s the grassy, oval field that runs between the Washington Monument and the White House.
EICHER: Despite enormous TV screens, microphones, and amplified speakers, the crowd was so loud she could barely hear anything President Trump said. But she did catch this:
DONALD TRUMP: We’re going to walk down to the Capitol. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.
EVENSEN: That’s the word only I remember. He said peacefully walk.
What she didn’t hear was this:
TRUMP: And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore. So we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. And we’re going to the Capitol.
ROUGH: The plaintiffs in this case, the group of voters, argue that was coded language for a call to insurrection.
But what happened that day made no sense to Evensen. She simply wanted to go to the Capitol and pray. So did Mary Mack. She was also there that day.
Mack often walked around the Capitol and prayed.
MARY MACK: We did it several times. We went to the Capitol and we did prayer walks around the Capitol. We pray really for this country and for this government. And for the leaders of our government.
EICHER: But on January 6th, Mack was sitting between the Lincoln and World War II Memorials by the Reflecting Pool with friends.
Euni Evensen got caught up in the march. When she got close to the Capitol, she heard a commotion. Behind her, a group of men in riot gear.
EVENSEN: Like bicycle helmet. Really strong. It’s all black. I just only hear, “Let’s go guys! Let’s go into the Capitol.”
ROUGH: She turned around to leave. But still got hit with tear gas.
EVENSEN: The smell was really bad. We could not open our eyes.
Mary Mack saw the smoke from her spot by the Reflecting Pool and also decided to leave.
Neither woman entered the Capitol building. But rioters did. They pushed through barriers. Vandalized property. Assaulted police officers. One woman who’d entered was shot dead by police. Meantime, Congress had convened for the duty to certify the votes of the electoral college for the next president. Instead, they had to abandon chambers.
Was this a full-blown insurrection?
EICHER: Colorado took the position that it was. And the state Supreme Court relied on the insurrection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to disqualify Trump.
So let’s turn our attention there.
Many high-profile cases touch on the 14th Amendment. We talk about it a lot on Legal Docket.
ROUGH: Yes, we do. Section 1 probably sounds familiar. That’s the due process clause and the equal protection clause.
But the 14th Amendment is long as constitutional amendments go. And that’s only a snippet.
This case centers on Section 3.
EICHER: That section disqualifies insurrectionists from holding political office. It was passed in the wake of the Civil War to bar former Confederates from getting back into the U.S. government.
ROUGH: But at oral argument, the Supreme Court barely touched on the issue of whether Trump engaged in insurrection.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is the only one who asked directly about it.
Trump lawyer Jonathan Mitchell answered by saying Trump didn’t engage in any act that could plausibly be characterized as insurrection.
JONATHAN MITCHELL: For an insurrection, there needs to be an organized, concerted effort to overthrow the government of the United States through violence.
JACKSON: So the point is a chaotic effort to overthrow the government is not an insurrection?
MITCHELL: This was a riot. It was not an insurrection. The events were shameful, criminal, violent, all of those things, but it did not qualify as an insurrection.
EICHER: The court spent most of the morning on other arguments.
Three main ones.
First: Does Congress need to pass a law before states can disqualify a candidate under Section 3? Or can Colorado and other states enforce Section 3 on their own?
ROUGH: Trump’s attorney relied on a case from 1869 that said states had no role in enforcing Section 3 apart from congressional authorization. So, he argued, Congress has a greater role to play here that it hasn’t played.
EICHER: But Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out that that 19th Century precedent wasn’t a Supreme Court case. So it’s not binding precedent now.
JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Let’s just be very clear. It was a circuit court decision.
The authority to enforce Section 3 isn’t the only problem. Without a federal statute … there’s no clear process to determine whether someone is an insurrectionist. Justice Samuel Alito raised that concern.
JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO: The trial court in Colorado thought it was proper to admit the January 6th report, and it also admitted the testimony of an expert. Another state court could reach an opposite conclusion ...
Inconsistent rulings among states about what trial evidence to include or exclude could lead to disunity. Making Trump eligible to run in some states but not others.
And that’s issue one of three: enforcement and the role of Congress.
ROUGH: Issue two: what one of the justices called “the officer stuff.” This case is on a very fast track, and honestly, a little disorganized. Typically the justices dialogue with the lawyers. Here, Justice Elena Kagan asked Chief Justice John Roberts about the day’s agenda.
JUSTICE KAGAN: Will there be an opportunity to do officer stuff?
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: Absolutely! Absolutely! [Laughter]
The “officer stuff.” That’s number two.
Here’s the gist: Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment applies to insurrectionists who have taken an oath “as an officer of the United States.”
Remember these two words: officer of.
EICHER: The Colorado voters argue that the language applies to all government officials, including the president.
But Trump says it applies to only some of them. Here’s his lawyer Jonathan Mitchell again:
MITCHELL: The president is not an officer of the United States as that term is used throughout the Constitution. Officer of the United States refers only to appointed officials, and does not include elected officials.
ROUGH: Other provisions in the Constitution include the officer of phrase, and each time excludes the president.
Now there’s one more piece of this, and I’m going to take the risk of confusing you. But there is another phrase in Section 3 banning insurrectionists from holding any office under the United States. Not officer of. Office. Under.
The parties also dispute whether that ban covers presidents.
EICHER: Jenny, before we get to the third argument—and we’re almost done here—this is what I thought was one of the most interesting parts. And we talked about this before we went on the air, and I wanted you to include it. It sounded to me almost as if Trump’s attorney Mitchell was making arguments for his opponents.
ROUGH: I know! I was talking with other lawyers about this perhaps crazy tactic. Trump’s lawyer was very candid about the strengths and weaknesses of his own argument. Admitting that these legal issues aren’t black and white might endear him to the justices. Not a bad move.
EICHER: OK, sorry I veered off the road, but I thought it was a scenic detour.
Back on the highway: Again, three issues here. First was enforcement and the role of Congress. Second was the officer stuff. Third dealt with what qualifies a candidate and by extension disqualifies one.
ROUGH: Right. The Constitution sets out qualifications for office. For example: Age: A president must be at least 35 years old. [No problem this year, looks like]
Trump argued Colorado is trying to add a new qualification to be president. And it can’t do that.
EICHER: For this one, Trump’s side argued Section 3 only bans an insurrectionist from holding office, not running for it.
In other words, Colorado disqualified him too early!
ROUGH: Jason Murray argued for Colorado’s side. He stressed that the Constitution gives states the power to govern elections.
JASON MURRAY: The constitutional role of the states in running presidential elections. Under Article II and the Tenth Amendment, states have the power to ensure that their citizens' electoral votes are not wasted on a candidate who is constitutionally barred from holding office.
EICHER: Justice Clarence Thomas wanted to know what states have used the 14th Amendment to disqualify candidates? And when?
JUSTICE THOMAS: Do you have contemporaneous examples where the states disqualified national candidates, not its own candidates, but national candidates?
Murray struggled here. But he offered this:
MURRAY: We didn't have ballots in the same way back then. Candidates were either write-in or they were party ballots, so the states didn't run the ballots in the same way, and there wouldn't have been a process for determining before an election whether a candidate was qualified.
ROUGH: Murray said there would be no great debate in other circumstances. A state could take these names off the ballot:
MURRAY: If President Bush or Obama wanted to run for a third term.
MURRAY: I don’t see why Section 3 should be treated any differently.
EICHER: But that led Justice Brett Kavanaugh to circle back to the first argument: policymakers stepping in here and making policy.
JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: Well when you look at Section 3 the term "insurrection" jumps out, and the question is, the questions are: What does that mean? How do you define it? Who decides? Who decides whether someone engaged in it?
ROUGH: There actually is a statute already on the books that prohibits insurrection. And Justice Kavanaugh brought it up.
KAVANAUGH: It’s a federal criminal statute. And if you’re convicted of that, it says you shall be disqualified from holding any office. But President Trump has not been charged with that.
No, he was not. And he couldn’t here because the Colorado case was handled in civil court.
So those were the three main arguments of the day: Does Congress need to pass a law to authorize the states to enforce Section 3; is the president an officer of the United States; and did Colorado impermissibly add a new presidential qualification.
The briefs made even more arguments than that, like one on taking oaths. So the justices have that and a ^maze^ of paths they can take toward a conclusion. The consensus seemed to be to look for a uniform resolution. Here’s Justice Kagan:
JUSTICE KAGAN: This question of whether a former president is disqualified for insurrection to be president again is, you know, just say it, it sounds awfully national to me. So whatever means there are to enforce it would suggest that they have to be federal, national means.
I understand the concern for uniformity across the nation. But … as the saying goes … democracy is messy!
And that’s this week’s Legal Docket.
JENNY ROUGH, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: the Monday Moneybeat.
NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s time to talk business, markets, and the economy with financial analyst and adviser David Bahnsen. He’s head of the wealth management firm The Bahnsen Group and he’s here now.
David, good morning!
DAVID BAHNSEN: Well, good morning Nick, good to be with you.
EICHER: David, I noticed a story in The New York Times, interesting trend piece on trouble for commercial real estate. And it goes along with the trend of remote work and people dropping out of the labor force to quote the Times, “leaving some once-bustling office buildings largely empty.”
Reporter Jeanna Smialek called it a slow-burning crisis. And for banks holding a big chunk of America’s commercial real estate debt, it’s placed them in the hot seat.
I know you pay close attention to the real estate market overall, is this a big story?
BAHNSEN: Well, we pay probably more attention to commercial real estate than we do even residential because commercial real estate is such an investable asset class. And it is a discussion that I think needs to happen. I think there is so much bad information. This story for The New York Times was hilarious in the sense that it’s kind of a cut and paste of an article that was written a year ago, two years ago, two and a half years ago.
But let’s just start with the obvious thing. Commercial real estate is a very unhelpful term. Are we talking about data centers? Are we talking about multifamily like apartment buildings? Are we talking about industrial warehouses, retail shopping centers, hotels? Which is a space I’m heavily invested in. And we do a lot on behalf of clients. Are we talking about office space? All of that is technically commercial real estate. Self storage is another example. I would argue that each one of those is entirely different. And then if you just talk about the office, are you talking about Class A office? And if you’re talking about Class A, are you talking about New York City? Are you talking about San Francisco? New York City last year had the most leases signed over $100 a foot in history. But these are really nice Class A offices. The Class B and Class C, the kind of lower quality older, has a much higher vacancy than it’s used to having. San Francisco is in a very different position than Houston, Texas is.
Now all of it is impacted by interest rates, of course. So then you have to distinguish between that, where loans have a fixed rate that lasts a little while longer, and those that are about to have a rate that will reset. But Nick, I’ll tell you what we’re seeing over and over, is lenders don’t want the keys back where borrower is in trouble. They over borrowed and have a high rate and the cash flows of the building won’t cover debt service. They’re amending and extending is the term we use. Amending and extending terms to avoid a default. There are still some defaults. There always have been. Is it a systemic crisis? Not even close.
This week, that story about the New York Community Bancorp that is running into issues with some of its lenders. It happens to be a Community Bancorp that focuses on lending to rent stabilized apartment buildings where the landlords have seen costs go up and they can’t raise the rents. I think that says more about the folly of government forced rent stabilization programs than it does about the current lay of the land. This will shake out further. We’ll see where things go with the Fed tightening and what the aftermath ends up being. But I would say that certain aspects of commercial real estate are doing better than they’ve ever done. Some parts are struggling and others are just subject to laws of supply and demand. Apartment buildings, for example, were flourishing. Rents were going up way too much. Now costs have gone up and I think they overbuilt in certain cities. There’s probably a glut of new product and so it’s going to be very, very diverse how this plays out in different pockets of the country.
EICHER: One of the Federal Reserve banks that tracks these numbers issued a report last week saying that as of last year, Mexico officially surpassed China as the number one exporter of goods to the United States. That was a position China occupied for two decades, so that’s a change. How do you assess this trend?
BAHNSEN: Well, I think it’s already happened that we were impacted, wanting more from Mexico than from China. I think with total trade now, export import combined, Mexico has passed. And it’s, again been known for a while and anticipated, but the only thing I would say that’s significant is it’s going to grow even more. I mean a significant amount of the attention at disintermediating China in our supply chain. A significant amount of deglobalization is leading not to Ohio and Arizona, but to Mexico. And so there that’s on the margin better at national security. Depending on what the product is, the labor cost in Mexico maintains the advantage that China had in labor cost many, many years ago. And so they’re still again, trying to sell a significant trading partner. But it shouldn’t be a surprise that a lot of the replacement has moved to Mexico. And there’s a lot of agricultural advantage. And of course, just on the cost, people can imagine, doesn’t cost as much to ship something from Mexico to the United States as it does from China. So those are the factors that play in there Nick.
EICHER: Alright, speaking of global trade, David, let’s close out with an appropriate Defining Terms for this week.
BAHNSEN: I want to talk about the term Forex, foreign exchange. It gets said all the time in the context of currency, and so Forex is obviously just a shorthand for foreign exchange, and particularly the foreign exchange of currency. The reason I bring this up, is that you hear people say a lot, the dollar is going down, or the dollar is going up. But of course, that doesn’t make any sense apart from the exchange. The dollar doesn’t go up or down, the yen doesn’t go up or down, the euro doesn’t go up or down, apart from its relationship to another currency. And that’s what Forex means is the exchange rate. You know, one dollar for one euro is an even exchange rate, that’s real simple. But when all of a sudden it’s $1.20 to get one euro, then you’ve got a different value across two currencies. And those things fluctuate. They go up and down, based on all sorts of different market circumstances. And I think that when people think about a strong dollar or a weak dollar, they ought to keep in mind that by definition, currencies have value relative to one another. And that’s what Forex, foreign exchange means.
EICHER: Ok, David Bahnsen is founder, managing partner, and chief investment officer of The Bahnsen Group. David’s personal website is Bahnsen.com. His Dividend Cafe each week you can find at dividendcafe.com.
Thank you, David!
BAHNSEN: Great being with you, Nick. Thanks so much.
JENNY ROUGH, HOST: Today is Monday, February 12th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Jenny Rough.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Up next, the WORLD History Book. Today, a conviction for the murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers.
And President Franklin Delano Roosevelt attempts to pack the court to ensure his legislative agenda.
But we begin with the final sermon of reformer John Calvin. Here now is WORLD Radio Reporter Emma Perley:
EMMA PERLEY: John Calvin is widely considered one of the most significant figures in the Protestant Reformation. First for writing the Institutes of the Christian Religion—outlining the fundamentals of the Protestant faith—and second, as a powerful preacher and reformer in Geneva, Switzerland.
CALVIN: Having preached my first sermon at age sixteen, I would hope to God that I have a few thousand sermons left.
But by February 1564, John Calvin is barely able to stand. He’s suffering from severe arthritis and gout. The once dynamic preacher slowly opens the word of God while sitting in a chair. Voice actor Ed Phillips reads from what is to be Calvin’s last sermon. The text is from Matthew 5 [Luke 6], the Beatitudes.
CALVIN: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
Blessed are those who mourn or weep, for they will be comforted and laugh.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Suddenly his mouth fills with blood from chronic tuberculosis. Calvin tries to finish the sermon but is taken home. Three months later, he writes in one of his last letters …
CALVIN: I draw my breath with difficulty, and every moment I am in expectation of breathing my last. It is enough that I live and die for Christ.
Two days after Calvin’s death, thousands attend the St. Pierre Cathedral in Geneva for his funeral. In an unusual move for such an influential theologian, Calvin had requested to be buried in an unmarked grave. His burial site is memorialized today with a small plaque in remembrance of his contributions to the Protestant faith.
Next, on February 5th, 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sets out to radically change the Supreme Court. If his proposal succeeds, the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill would expand the number of Supreme Court judges from nine to fifteen. But it faces bipartisan opposition. Here’s Democratic Representative Samuel B. Pettengill speaking out against it.
SAMUEL PETTENGIL: A packed jury, a packed court, and a stuffed ballot box are all on the same moral plane. This is more power than a good man should want, or a bad man should have.
FDR has worked to restore the economy after the Great Depression. Calling his programs the New Deal, FDR’s plans continued after winning his second reelection by a landslide. Here he is during his inaugural address in 1936.
FDR: This nation is asking for action, and action now!
But the Supreme Court keeps accepting legal challenges to his plans and overturning many of his programs, fearing an over-expansion of government. For instance, SCOTUS declares FDR’s National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional in 1935. They also rule against the New Deal Agricultural Adjustment Act. So FDR proposes packing the court to improve his chances for New Deal legislation to go unchallenged. Here’s FDR again. Audio courtesy of Bloomberg:
FDR: But we cannot yield our constitutional destiny to the personal judgment of a few men who, being fearful of the future, would deny us the necessary means of dealing with the present.
The court packing plan ultimately fails on the floor of Congress. But soon afterwards, the Supreme Court begins upholding FDR’s New Deal programs as more cases are argued in the high court. Justice Owen Roberts was a prominent opponent of New Deal programs, but changed his mind after the court packing plan. This reversal is often called the switch in time that saved nine. Fellow justice Felix Frankfurter privately criticized Roberts for caving to political pressure. And many historians have speculated since that the Supreme Court decided it would rather compromise with FDR than face another threat to their authority.
Finally, on February 5th, 1994, Byron De La Beckwith is convicted of murdering civil rights leader Medgar Evers. The trial is a long time coming, as the murder actually happened thirty years earlier. Here’s NAACP Executive Director Roy Wilkins speaking of Evers at his funeral in 1963.
ROY WILKINS: He had strong feelings and strong convictions, and great love of freedom.
Evers was the NAACP’s field secretary and challenged segregation at the University of Mississippi. He was assassinated at his home by De La Beckwith, a Ku Klux Klan member and white supremacist. Here’s De La Beckwith speaking of his beliefs during his 1964 trial.
DE LA BECKWITH: I believe in extermination of all that oppose this: the white right Christian side of every issue.
De La Beckwith’s trials included two all white, male juries who could not deliver a verdict...resulting in two mistrials. But in 1989, investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell starts digging through the court files. He ultimately finds out that lawyers singled out pro-segregationist jurors.
Felonies such as murder have no time limit in the Mississippi statute of limitations. So, in 1994, De La Beckwith is finally brought to justice and charged with the murder of Evers. Here’s Mitchell with WJTV 12 News.
JERRY MITCHELL: When the word “guilty” rant out, you could hear these waves of joy as they cascaded down the hall until it reached a foyer full of people, black and white, just erupted in cheers.
That’s this week’s WORLD History Book. I’m Emma Perley.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: The state of abortion and the fight for life from the perspective of governors around the country. We’ll have that story and much more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
JENNY ROUGH, HOST: And I’m Jenny Rough.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio. WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
The Psalmist writes: “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” —Psalm 39:4
Go now in grace and peace.
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