The New Deal, a series of programs, public works projects, financial reforms, and regulations enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States in the 1930s, aimed to provide relief, recovery, and reform during the Great Depression. While the New Deal received widespread support at its inception, conservative opposition to the policies began to strengthen by 1937. There were several key factors that contributed to this opposition, from both political and economic perspectives. In this article, we will explore the reasons that led to the bolstering of conservative opposition to the New Deal in 1937.
The Supreme Court’s Rulings
One significant factor that strengthened conservative opposition to the New Deal in 1937 was the series of rulings by the Supreme Court. In 1935, the Supreme Court declared the National Recovery Administration (NRA) unconstitutional in the case of Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States. This decision was a blow to President Roosevelt’s New Deal policies, as the NRA was one of the key components of the administration’s efforts to combat the economic downturn.
Furthermore, in 1936, the Supreme Court ruled in Carter v. Carter Coal Company that the Bituminous Coal Conservation Act of 1935 was unconstitutional. This decision had a significant impact on the New Deal’s regulatory approach to the economy, as it limited the federal government’s ability to intervene in labor disputes and industry regulations.
These rulings by the Supreme Court signaled a shift in the judicial interpretation of the New Deal policies, leading to increased conservative opposition to the expansion of federal power and the reach of government intervention in the economy. The Court’s rulings set the stage for heightened conservative resistance to the New Deal, as they undermined key components of Roosevelt’s economic and labor policies.
Conservative Critics and Political Opposition
Conservative critics of the New Deal also played a crucial role in strengthening opposition to the policies in 1937. Throughout the mid-1930s, conservative politicians, business leaders, and intellectuals voiced their discontent with the expansion of federal power and the increasing role of the government in economic and social affairs. Critics such as Senator Robert Taft and the American Liberty League argued that the New Deal’s programs and regulations were encroaching on individual liberties and free market principles.
In addition to vocal criticism, conservative opposition to the New Deal took a political form, as many conservative politicians sought to challenge Roosevelt’s policies and influence public opinion against the administration. The 1936 presidential election saw a united conservative front against Roosevelt, with the Republican nominee, Alf Landon, campaigning on a platform that opposed the expansion of federal power and government intervention in the economy.
Furthermore, the formation of the Conservative Coalition in Congress in the late 1930s bolstered opposition to the New Deal’s legislative agenda. This coalition, made up of conservative Democrats and Republicans, worked to block or modify New Deal legislation, further strengthening the conservative opposition to Roosevelt’s policies. Conservative critics and political opposition played a pivotal role in escalating resistance to the New Deal in 1937, as they sought to curtail the expansion of federal power and the influence of the Roosevelt administration.
Recession and Economic Concerns
The onset of a new recession in 1937 also contributed to the strengthening of conservative opposition to the New Deal. After several years of economic recovery and improvement, a sharp downturn occurred in 1937, resulting in a significant increase in unemployment and a decline in industrial production. This downturn, known as the “Roosevelt Recession,” led to widespread concern about the effectiveness of the New Deal’s economic policies and raised questions about the administration’s ability to address the lingering effects of the Great Depression.
Conservative opponents of the New Deal pointed to the recession as evidence of the failure of Roosevelt’s economic interventions and argued that the expansion of government programs and regulations had hindered economic recovery. Critics such as business leaders and conservative economists advocated for a return to free market principles and a reduction in government spending and intervention as a means to stimulate economic growth.
The recession in 1937 provided a platform for conservative opponents of the New Deal to intensify their criticisms of the administration’s economic policies, strengthening their opposition to the government’s role in managing the economy and furthering their calls for a more limited federal government.
Impact of Social and Cultural Policies
In addition to economic and political concerns, the New Deal’s social and cultural policies also contributed to the strengthening of conservative opposition. The expansion of federal welfare programs and the implementation of social security measures in the mid-1930s raised concerns among conservative critics about the growing dependence on government assistance and the erosion of individual responsibility.
Conservative opponents of the New Deal viewed the administration’s social policies as a departure from traditional values and principles, advocating for a more limited role of government in social welfare and individual affairs. The expansion of federal programs and regulations, such as the Works Progress Administration and the Social Security Act, further fueled conservative opposition to the New Deal’s broader social and cultural agenda.
The social and cultural impact of the New Deal’s policies contributed to the strengthening of conservative opposition, as critics sought to preserve traditional values and limit the influence of the federal government in social and individual matters. These concerns added another dimension to the conservative resistance to the New Deal, shaping the broader opposition to the administration’s policies in the late 1930s.
In conclusion, several factors contributed to the strengthening of conservative opposition to the New Deal in 1937. The Supreme Court’s rulings undermined key components of the administration’s economic and labor policies, seeding the grounds for heightened resistance to the expansion of federal power. Conservative critics and political opposition played a pivotal role in escalating resistance to the New Deal, as they sought to curtail the influence of the Roosevelt administration. The onset of a new recession in 1937 raised concerns about the effectiveness of the New Deal’s economic policies, fueling calls for a more limited federal government and a return to free market principles. Additionally, the impact of the New Deal’s social and cultural policies added another dimension to the conservative resistance, shaping the broader opposition to the administration’s agenda. These factors combined to strengthen conservative opposition to the New Deal in 1937, setting the stage for a period of heightened political and ideological conflict in the United States.