Skip to main content

What a dark day for American democracy it was - February 5, 1937, the day they arrested President Roosevelt.

The pretext for this assault on democracy was President Roosevelt's proposal of the Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937, which would have allowed President Roosevelt to appoint more members to the Supreme Court, which had blocked New Deal measures President Roosevelt had introduced to try to bring America out of the Great Depression. Supporters of the New Deal were particularly galled by the Supreme Court's decision the previous year throwing out New York's minimum wage law.

But some of President Roosevelt's opponents in Congress (including many conservative Democrats), the Supreme Court, and the military claimed the proposed bill was an assault on the Constitution - even though the Constitution doesn't say how many Supreme Court justices there should be, and Congress had changed the number of Supreme Court Justices many times in the past - and that Roosevelt's move was a dangerous power grab. So dangerous, in fact, that Roosevelt's proposal could not even be considered in Congress. Roosevelt's opponents claimed that he had violated the Constitution by even suggesting the idea, and had to be removed from office immediately; that Roosevelt and his supporters were such a threat to the established order that due process had to be dispensed with - if Roosevelt were put in prison, maybe there would be riots.

Therefore, on the morning of February 5, soldiers under the command of General Smedley Butler arrested President Roosevelt and deported him to Canada, still in his pajamas.

With President Roosevelt out of the way, the Supreme Court overturned Washington State's minimum wage law on March 9. On April 12, the Supreme Court threw out the National Labor Relations Act - which sought to guarantee the rights of workers to organize into "unions" so they could bargain collectively for higher wages and better working conditions. Finally, on May 24, the Supreme Court overturned the law establishing Roosevelt's proposed "Social Security" system - a public pension scheme to guarantee some income to less privileged workers and their dependents in retirement and to the disabled. The New Deal was crushed.

Imagine how different America might be today, if President Roosevelt had been allowed to continue his term and the New Deal had been allowed to proceed. Maybe sixty per cent of our fellow Americans wouldn't live in poverty, as they do today.

Some of the foregoing things didn't happen in the United States, but some of them did. The Supreme Court really did overturn New York's minimum wage law, and many feared that it would overturn Washington's minimum wage law, the National Labor Relations Act, and Social Security. The Court narrowly upheld them - 5 to 4 - after Roosevelt introduced his proposed judicial reform, when one of the anti-New Deal justices switched sides. Roosevelt's proposed judicial reform itself was decisively defeated in Congress, with strong Democratic opposition - many did say, including many Democrats, that it was an attack on the Constitution.

U.S. soldiers never arrested President Roosevelt and deported him to Canada, although General Smedley Butler did testify to Congress that he had been recruited by people claiming to represent corporate interests to lead a coup against President Roosevelt.

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was deported by Honduran soldiers to Costa Rica on June 28 for the "crime" of proposing that Hondurans be allowed to consider a non-binding, advisory referendum on reforming their constitution.

US corporate interests -  including textile and clothing importers that pay their Honduran workers poverty wages - recently sent a letter to President Obama asking for "business as usual" with the coup regime in Honduras, a letter the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation denounced as 'disgusting.'

Today sixty per cent of Hondurans live in poverty. They deserve a better future - a future they may never see if this coup is allowed to stand.

Democrats in the U.S. Congress are starting to stand up against the coup. Rep. Bill Delahunt and Rep. Jim McGovern have introduced a resolution calling for President Zelaya to be returned to office. Ask your Representative to support this resolution. The Capitol switchboard is 202.224.3121; or you can send an email here.

The Obama Administration has many levers it can use to pressure the coup regime. The Los Angeles Times has called for the Administration to consider "imposing sanctions on individuals involved with the coup, such as canceling visas and freezing bank accounts.". The Obama Administration is much more likely to exert more pressure on the coup regime if Members of Congress speak out against the coup - so call or write your Representative now.

Originally posted to Robert Naiman on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 08:31 AM PDT.

Poll

Democrats in Congress Should Speak Out Against the Coup in Honduras

51%92 votes
48%85 votes

| 177 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

    •  Awesome diary, Robert (6+ / 0-)

      the way I prove every bullshit, crack pot CT down is by pointing out that they never, ever mention Gen Smedley Butler.

      But they all fear the REDACTED

      They don't mention Bush/Cheney war crimes either

      But teh evil 1World Gov is gonna comes for reals, and Obama is behind it.

      Sure.

      Personally, I think we should always support people who wish to be free. I just prefer a more Monroe Doctrine method to achieving that. In this case, I am not sure what applies.

      Tipped and Rec'd. A pleasure to read.

      The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?' - 1984

      by MinistryOfTruth on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 08:36:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  All of those financiers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PaulVA, bebacker, Calfacon

    involved with the attempted coup should have been tried and executed for treason.  However, FDR had bigger fish to fry by focusing on WWII.

    •  Treason is well defined in the Constitution (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bebacker, El barragas, vets74

      Even plotting such an insurrection did not qualify:

      Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

      ... and we have seen the black suns | pouring forth the night. -- Clark Ashton Smith

      by bustacap on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 08:56:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actual Plot Was 8 Yrs Before the War (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vets74, davidseth, 1BQ, Munchkn

      Butler reported it in 1934, so it was long before even the 1937 of this diary's fiction.

      In 1934, he alleged to the United States Congress that a group of wealthy industrialists had plotted a military coup known as the Business Plot to overthrow the government of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The allegations were controversial.[1][2][3][4][5]

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 09:14:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Douglas MacArthur vouched for Butler. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        1BQ

        After Mac's field leadership during WW I and heading West Point, before moving up, that ended the carping.

        Angry White Males + DSM IV Personality Disorder delusionals + sane Pro-Lifers =EQ= The Base

        by vets74 on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 10:09:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  one important difference (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cris0000, vets74, VClib, 1BQ, John Minehan

    the Honduran Constitution actually has it written as law that if the president tries to subvert the constitution, the Military is required to remove him.  a Constitutionally mandated coup is odd, but its there.   The military has a leg to stand on.

    We have no desire to offend you -- unless you are a twit!

    by ScrewySquirrel on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 08:55:40 AM PDT

  •  Smedley Buttler--forgotten hero (5+ / 0-)

    Your post is a reminder of how close to a fascist coup the United States actually came.  But it might lead some readers to believe that General Smedley Butler, the Marine Corps. hero who served in many of the "Banana Wars" in the Caribbean and central America and had become disgusted by being a "tool of United Fruit," had been at least open to accepting the proposal that he become "the man on the white horse" to front for the coup.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  General Butler bravely came forward and exposed the whole affair, which just might have prevented it from happening with another officer in place.  Some believe that the same people may have also approached Douglas McArthur in the Philippines.  If so, he declined, and destroyed any evidence of an approach but did not, like Butler, rat them out.

    Check out Butler’s illustrious career—which also provides a glimpse at America’s neo-colonial past in Central America.

     title=

    If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way.--Mark Twain

    by pmurfin on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 09:50:34 AM PDT

  •  Franklin W Roosevelt?? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Minehan

    Roosevelt's gambit was just like most of W's "imperial presidency" maneuvers.  He tried to make the President the superior of Congress and the Court.

    Of course, the simple resolution would have been for Congress to simply never vote on the two appointments, but that would have been a tacit approval of the concept, and come back to bite them later.  If they allowed him to expand the Court he would have precedent to simply eliminate as many justices as he pleased.  Abd then expand it again to install his own Kangaroo Justices.

    As bad as it was at the time, and as horrible as the result, do you think the nation would have better off if Democrats rejected the Courts jurisdiction in Bush v. Gore and tried to establish their own government?  I was overseas at the time, a lot of the people I knew wanted to know why America didn't have an armed insurrection.  Many didn't understand that survival of the republic, and all it stands for, was more important than any single election.

    I don't care  if it's George W, Bush, Franklin Roosevelt, or Baraxk Obama; the separation of powers is as important as the Bill of Rights.  In fact, it is the single best protection for those rights.

  •  Pointless to approach MacArthur. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Minehan

    He was in the Philippines, having retired from the Army and taken a position -- with full approval -- as head of the new Philippine army.

    If America had needed an emperor ???

    MacArthur would have been on the short list. Perfect.

    "American Caesar" is the great biography -- Bill Manchester -- and titled with respect, that MacArthur had been a brilliant Caesar in Japan and would have been a great Caesar in Rome.

    BTW: the restructure in Japan after the war was 100% engineered by Mac. New economic organizations. New Law.

    He wrote the constitution, personally.

    Angry White Males + DSM IV Personality Disorder delusionals + sane Pro-Lifers =EQ= The Base

    by vets74 on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 10:35:11 AM PDT

  •  The President of Hondoras (0+ / 0-)

    was attempting to subvert both the Constitution of his country and ignored an order from his Supreme Court to cease and desist.  The two circumstances are not similar.  Additionally, the Court packing Scheme was a blatant attack on the Seperation of Powers under the Constitution.  The remedy was at the ballot box, where the Democrats lost seats in the 1938 and 1940 Congressional elections.  

    •  you make my point (0+ / 0-)

      you wrote: "the Court packing Scheme was a blatant attack on the Seperation of Powers under the Constitution."

      so many saw it at the time, as I wrote: people said Roosevelt attacked the Constitution.

      If what the Honduran military did to Zelaya was just, then it would have been just for the U.S. military to arrest Roosevelt and deport him to Canada. You can't have it both ways.

      •  Roosevelt didn't pack the Court and (0+ / 0-)

        Zelaya violated the letter of the Hondoran Constitution.  About all you can say is that he should have been jailed, rather than exiled, under Hondoran law.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site