Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Court Packing and Packing Pizza

Since tomorrow is the 4th of July (and we have class off) today had a real Friday feel to it. I overslept for the first time this trip, and the only reason I got up at all is thanks to Simon, who texted me to remind me that we were supposed to be getting breakfast in like, 2 minutes. So I also learned today that it is in fact physically possible to spend less than 30 minutes getting ready in the morning. And by less than 30 I mean 5. I met Simon outside John Jay and we got breakfast, later joined by Claire and Emily. I did have coffee this morning, so that combined with my extra-big amount of sleep last night pepped me up a little more than yesterday. 

In class we discussed the article from last night's homework, which concerned the court-packing ordeal of 1937. In depth we talked about President Roosevelt's plan to appoint as many as 6 new Supreme Court justices and why his scheme failed. Roosevelt was frustrated with the conservative leaning majority in the court which consistently shot down his legislation from his New Deal, so he attempted to dilute the panel by adding new members that woul vote in his favor. His actions were/are regarded as dubious and feed into his status as one of our nation's most controversial presidents. 

The very first article we read was about George Washington's decision to sign the jay treaty, an action that was also highly disapproved of by the public. We compared the two and the majority of conversation today explored why Washington succeeded AND won public support but Roosevelt did not. Roosevelt erred in two important cases - he was very secretive about his intentions, and he was overconfident. Roosevelt barely even briefed his cabinet - he only discussed his court-packing plans with a single trusted advisor. He told the public a different reason for his proposed legislation - basically that the advanced age of some of the current justices made them senile or unable to properly make decisions. His overconfidence that this deceptive veil would hide his true intentions was another shortcoming, because the very congressmen that he chose to keep in the dark came out against his plan because of their own old age and/or out of spite for having been so out of the loop. 

In Washington's case, he was up front with the public, and thus was able to defend his decisions honestly. 

I like when we do this in class - compare presidents' style of leadership and use of tactical skill - where they went wrong and where they succeeded, and what examples they may have looked to in the past. 

After class, I went to the Brooklyn Bridge with Claire, Simon, Emily, and others. We walked in the rain to a famous pizzeria underneath the bridge and waited for maybe half an hour in the pouring rain to get a table. Let's just say today I learned that you really should bring your umbrella with you all the time. Just in case. Even though the trip started off poorly, just the first bite of the pizza made it all okay. Simon and I ate an entire pizza by ourselves (I don't know if he brought up that part, but I'm proud gosh darn it)! After we ate we walked across the bridge back to Manhattan and took lots of amazing pictures on the way. 
We got back pretty late so I'll be hitting the hay soon. Especially because I have to wake up early to go to Long Island tomorrow for an Independence Day beach trip! 

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