NOTE: This was first publishing during the impeachment trial of ousted chief justice Renato Corona.
The Senate sitting as an impeachment court has convicted the chief justice for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Philippine Constitution. The question now is: How will the President execute his own version of ‘court packing’ to pursue his political agenda?
Here’s why I’m so disgusted with some of Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s media apologists who form part of today’s
Yellow Journalism. Today I came across this opinion piece published by the Philippine Daily OINKuirer titled ‘Save the Constitution from the Court…’ The title was obviously inspired by one of America’s most progressive or leftist presidents before Barack Obama: Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Commenting on the President’s current political fight against Chief Justice Renato Corona, PDI columnist Raul Pangalanan opens his pro-PNOY, Yellowtard piece with the following FDR quotation: “We have, therefore, reached the point as a nation where we must take action to save the Constitution from the Court and the Court from itself. …. We want a Supreme Court which will do justice under the Constitution and not over it.”
The problem with Mr. Pangalanan’s painfully hilarious opinion piece is that it simply quotes- or glorifies- America’s 20th century fascist leader who attempted to destroy or desecrate the American Constitution through his arbitrary executive power.
I did a little bit of research and found that FDR said those words in 1937, or two years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the president’s fascistic National Industrial Recovery Act was unconstitutional, because it infringed on the separation of powers under the United States Constitution.
Since it appears that Mr. Pangalanan did not do his homework— or is perhaps a bit clueless of recent American history— let me share what really happened before and after 1937, the year in which FDR conveyed his strongly worded statement against the Supreme Court.
The constitutional history of the United States in the past century was marred— or highlighted— by Roosevelt’s unfortunate ‘Court-packing’ scheme of 1937. It all started when the president sought more power from the U.S. Congress to reform the federal judiciary by inserting a new federal judge , including justices of the Supreme Court, for each member of the judiciary who did not retire upon the age of 70. Such a political debacle, which was purged by the Democratic Senate, pushed the president to follow a disastrous course. In the end, FDR failed to “pack the Court” in order to achieve his progressive political agenda.
The U.S. Supreme did not touch Roosevelt’s New Deal until 1934 when it defined, in the Blaisdellcase, decided by a 5 to 4 vote, the extent or scope of the executive branch’s emergency power. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote: “While emergency does not create power, emergency may furnish the occasion for the exercise of power.” This gave the president the judicial and ‘constitutional’ permission to exercise such executive power and prerogative. Roosevelt strongly believed that the Constitution authorized the use of such emergency power.
However, FDR’s problem came when the Hughes Court started to consider the New Deal policy hostile to “the Court’s prevailing habit of mind— the idea that government cannot be left judicially unsupervised in possession of a power that might be abused.” Following this judicial realization and pronouncement, the Supreme Court, from 1935 to 1936— or over a period of 17 months— nullified no less than a dozen of New Deal statutes, an action that enraged the power-hungry Roosevelt administration.
As Justice Harlan Fiske Stone, later to be appointed chief justice by Roosevelt, wrote in a letter to his sister on June 2, 1936: “We finished the term of the Court yesterday, I think in many ways one of the most disastrous in history. At any rate it seems to me that the court has been needlessly narrow and obscurantic in its outlook. We seem to have tied Uncle Sam up in a hard knot.” Of course, FDR had to appoint Stone for being sympathetic towards his New Deal regime and fascistic politics.
In their book titled Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Transformation of the Supreme Court (Vol. 3), Stephen Shaw, William Pederson, and Frank Williams wrote:
“No chief executive had ever attempted to change so much quickly. No institution represented the established older more vividly than “the nine old men.” With the beginning of his second term in 1937, Roosevelt found himself in the historically odd and politically unpalatable position of being the first president since James Monroe to serve full term without a single appointment to the Court… The president, therefore, felt compelled to save the country from those “five stubborn old men [who] had planted themselves squarely in the path of progress.” (pp. 3-4)
In declaring war on the Supreme Court, Roosevelt employed the legal apparatus of his regime to eradicate all forms of opposition to his political agenda. In 1937, FDR had not appointed a new justice to the Supreme Court. Since six of the nine “stubborn old men” were over 70 years of age, FDR encouraged all of them to resign because of their old age. The justices, however, refused to yield to yield to FDR’s demand. The president then sought to expand the high Court to 15 members by adding a co-justice for every judge over 70. Such a packing scheme would offer him a majority and transform the judiciary into an obedient servant.
Leonard Baker, in his book Back to Back: The Duel between FDR and the Supreme Court, wrote:
“The FDR plan was simple. The Supreme Court had nine members. Six were over seventy years of age. For each member of the Court who declined to retire at age seventy, Roosevelt proposed that a co-justice be appointed to the Court to serve alongside the older justice. If his bill became law, Roosevelt immediately could make six appointments of co-justices to the Court, and the Court would jump in size from nine to fifteen members. If one of the six justices over seventy chose to retire, the President still would be able to make an appointment to fill his vacant seat on the bench as well as naming five co-justices, but the Court would go up only to fourteen members. If all the justices over seventy retired, FDR could then fill their vacancies, and the Court would stay at nine members. Either way, through the appointment of co-justices or through the retirement of justices over seventy, Roosevelt would have the authority to place on the Supreme Court persons whose philosophy agreed with his.” (pp. 9)
Roosevelt critic John T. Flynn, in The Roosevelt Myth (1944), also wrote:
“The NRA was discovering it could not enforce its rules. Black markets grew up. Only the most violent police methods could procure enforcement. In Sidney Hillman’s garment industry the code authority employed enforcement police. They roamed through the garment district like storm troopers. They could enter a man’s factory, send him out, line up his employees, subject them to minute interrogation, take over his books on the instant. Night work was forbidden. Flying squadrons of these private coat-and-suit police went through the district at night, battering down doors with axes looking for men who were committing the crime of sewing together a pair of pants at night. But without these harsh methods many code authorities said there could be no compliance because the public was not back of it.”
Pangalanan’s ‘Save the Constitution from the Court‘, which is obviously a Yellow propaganda, smacks of utter historical ignorance and political fascism. What is clear is that Mr. Pangalanan either intentionally or naively chose to channel a US president who’s notorious for bastardizing the American Constitution with his destructive welfare, fascistic policies. And in case Mr. Pangalan doesn’t know, it was the US Supreme Court that saved America from FDR’s dangerous welfare statism by invalidating the statist president’s National Recovery Act and other New Deal statutes that established cronyism or corporatism in the USA.
What is clear is that Mr. Pangalanan is simply glorifying FDR’s political fascism and praised the statist president’s attack on the U.S. Supreme Court. Is Mr. Pangalanan trying to say that Pres. Noynoy’s political feud with the Supreme Court suggests- or reeks of- FDR’s political fascism?
We all know that Noynoy’s “stubborn old man” is none other than Chief Justice Renato Corona, an Arroyo midnight appointee, who evidently wanted to serve his appointing power, former President and now congresswoman Gloria Arroyo.
However, the main gist of my comment on the Corona impeachment issue is as follows:
Let’s not forget that impeachment is primarily a political or politicized process and a quasi-judicial one. So we cannot remove doubts or suspicions concerning the political motives of the Aquino regime. Let’s just wait and see the result of this highly politicized process. However, I don’t believe it would lead to a constitutional crisis or whatever. In the first place, Corona should have declined or refused to accept Arroyo’s appointment. That’s called delicadeza. Arroyo should have respected her successor’s authority and choice. This is the reason why the appointment of SC chief justice should not be given to the executive branch. I believe there’s a better alternative (should we revise our Constitution).
The problem is, unlike FDR’s “five stubborn old men [who] had planted themselves squarely in the path of progress”, Corona is faced with impeachment proceedings engineered by the President’s men to get rid of him.