Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference in Hyde Park, New York

October 21, 1938

Q. Good morning, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, Frederic [Storm]. How is the boy? What did you do yesterday with all the rain going on? What kind of golf did you play?

Q. Indoor golf.

Mr McIntyre: The game they call galloping golf.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, that is a very expensive game.

Q. [Mr. Belair] Yes, sir; it is.

THE PRESIDENT: Now, let us see what I have got. I have several things here, if you are short of stories.

Q. We certainly are, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: I can give you lots of stuff.

No. 1: I have always checked up on the tourist travel in the National Parks, in just the way I used to check up every year when I was Governor, on the tourist travel in the Adirondack Park and in the Catskill Park and in the various State Parks, as being something of an indication of the condition of the country.

Here is a memorandum that I got from Slattery, which I will give Mac [Mr. Mcintyre] to show to you. It has the figures in it but it is not to be used in a statement. It was made out in the form of a statement by me, because there is a whole lot of material here that you need not use. (Reading)

"As I have repeatedly emphasized, it is my desire, and the purpose of this Administration, to raise the American standard of living so that all of the people may enjoy better economic security and good living. Public use of the national parks, which are created for the benefit and enjoyment of the people, shows how well we have succeeded." You can put that in your own language. (Reading)

"In 1933, administrative responsibility for many of the historical parks and national monuments was scattered among several departments of the Federal Government. For economy and the maintenance of consistent standards of public service, I consolidated that responsibility in the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior.

"In 1934, the first year that travel statistics were recorded for the consolidated national park and monument system, 6,337,206 people visited those reservations. In 1935, the travel figure climbed to 7,676,490; in 1936, it increased to 11,989,793; in 1937, it mounted to 15,133,432; and in 1938, 16,233,688 people visited the areas in the national park and monument system.

"In other words, in four years the number of people who are visiting National Parks and Monuments has increased more than two and a half times, which is a very interesting thing. . . . It is a beautiful statement. You can take all kinds of beautiful things out of it as long as you do not take it as my statement.

Q. This does not include the National Forests?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Of course, in the National Forests they have not the same kind of a checkup on numbers, as they have in the National Parks and Monuments, because so many people go into the National Forests without going over a road.

Q. In line with these statistics as reflecting the condition of the country, have you any comment to make upon the widespread back-to-work movement in the automobile industry.

THE PRESIDENT: Of course the only comment is that it is a very delightful fact.

Q. And that, of course, will help in holding down WPA spending?


Then, here is another thing: I have been digging these things up. Here is another thing I have had for about a week or ten days. I cannot give you very much in the way of details on it because I have not got them. It is the kind of a thing that is good, if you want to write a special story when you get back to Washington.

Back in 1937, the Congress at the suggestion of myself and the Attorney General—this was part of the Court objective passed a bill setting up a board, commission or group of Federal Judges to reorganize and reform Federal Court practice and procedure.

Up to that time there were a great many complaints about Federal Court practice. It was slow, it was not uniform, it had a great many excrescences. It had grown up over a great many years. It required speeding up for better justice, and, especially, for quicker justice. This committee of Federal Judges met and, in accordance with the terms of the Act, made a report last spring, which I sent to the Congress.

That report laid down a whole new series of simplification and standardization rules. The Act provided that the Congress would have the right to veto these rules before it adjourned; but that if they did not veto the rules before they adjourned, they would go into effect on the first of October. The Congress did not take any action on the rules, one way or the other, and therefore they went into effect on the first day of October.

The result is one of the most important steps that we have taken for the reform of Federal judicial procedure.

And it is rather interesting as a sidelight on methods of Government, taking it in a broad way. If the Congress had attempted to formulate rules themselves, which they had a perfect right to do, what would have happened? In all human probability, nothing would have happened. It was a more or less technical problem. It had been discussed for twenty years, and nothing had happened.

Therefore, the Congress very wisely said, "We haven't got the time, in a body consisting of the House and Senate, to go into the details of Court rules; therefore we will delegate the legislative function to set up rules to a committee of experts composed of Judges and assisted by the Department of Justice. And we will provide that what they bring in, in the form of rules, will automatically go into effect, provided the Congress itself does not veto them."

The result is that we have taken one of the most important steps we have ever taken.

Now, I do not have to point out to you the analogy between that procedure and a good many other problems of Government, such as reorganization and a good many other problems of actual administration. Rules of a Court are essentially an administrative problem, and these new rules will improve the administration of justice. They are laid down by the people who run the Courts, the Judges and the Department of Justice; and the Congress gave to itself the right to veto them.

MR. MCINTYRE Is there any precedent for that action that you know of?

THE PRESIDENT: That we do not know, but it is an interesting accomplishment, and a very sound way for getting more or less technical problems solved. Most people in this country do not know about it at all because it has had just a stick or two. But all the lawyers who practised in the Federal Courts are quite thrilled by what has been accomplished.

Q. For the purposes of our stories, are not those rather unimportant in themselves, as far as our story is concerned?

THE PRESIDENT: No, they are tremendously important from the point of view of the lawyer. They are very drastic. It is the most drastic thing that has ever happened in the practice and procedure before the Federal Courts.

Q. Stories have been printed on it.

THE PRESIDENT: You will probably find it in the files but it is the kind of thing that is not known to the general public at all.

Q. Mr. President, naturally you are cheered over the method by which this was accomplished?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it is a practical way of accomplishing Administrative reforms.

Q. Have you anything else in mind that you think might be carried out along this line, such as reorganization?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. After all, that is the principle. It is the principle and the objective of what I have said all along about reorganization. In other words, give to the people who are responsible for administration in the Executive Branch of the Government, just as they did to people who were responsible in the Judicial Branch of the Government, the right to bring in new rules, new plans, to the Congress; and give to Congress the right to veto those plans within a given time. Exactly the same thing.

Then I have one other thing here. I have had reports from Administrator Andrews, of the Wage-Hour Administration, that are very gratifying in that there is a general disposition being shown by employers throughout the country to comply with the law.

The response has been such that the Administrator has some hope that many employers engaged in intrastate commerce may voluntarily accept the standards that are being set up for interstate commerce.

MR. MCINTYRE: Couldn't they use that as a direct statement, just as you gave it?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it is all right.

Q. Mr. Andrews—

THE PRESIDENT: [interposing] Yes. In other words, the Federal Government has the constitutional right only to regulate wages and hours in interstate commerce; but it has been our thought behind the exercise of that right that local industries, operating only in commerce within a given state, would voluntarily adopt the standards of the other people. And it seems to be working out. . . .

Q. Is there anything you can tell us about your conversation with Mr. Bullitt?

THE PRESIDENT: No; he has been up here having a holiday. We have had no conversation.

Q. Nothing on war debts?

THE PRESIDENT: No, certainly not. I am sorry to spoil that story which appeared in the papers, too. (Laughter)

Q. The picnic lunch was right? We had that right?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, you had that right. That was all right. . . .

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference in Hyde Park, New York Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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