FYI July 22, 2017


1937 – New Deal: The United States Senate votes down President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s proposal to add more justices to the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937[1] (frequently called the “court-packing plan”)[2] was a legislative initiative proposed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to add more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. Roosevelt’s purpose was to obtain favorable rulings regarding New Deal legislation that the court had ruled unconstitutional.[3] The central provision of the bill would have granted the President power to appoint an additional Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, up to a maximum of six, for every member of the court over the age of 70 years and 6 months.

In the Judiciary Act of 1869 Congress had established that the United States Supreme Court would consist of the Chief Justice and eight associate justices. During Roosevelt’s first term the Supreme Court struck down several New Deal measures as being unconstitutional. Roosevelt sought to reverse this by changing the makeup of the court through the appointment of new additional justices who he hoped would rule his legislative initiatives did not exceed the constitutional authority of the government. Since the U.S. Constitution does not define the size of the Supreme Court, Roosevelt pointed out that it was within the power of the Congress to change it. The legislation was viewed by members of both parties as an attempt to stack the court, and was opposed by many Democrats, including Vice President John Nance Garner.[4][5] The bill came to be known as Roosevelt’s “court-packing plan”.[2]

In November 1936, Roosevelt won a sweeping reelection victory. In the months following, Roosevelt boldly proposed to reorganize the federal judiciary by adding a new justice each time a justice reached age seventy and failed to retire.[6] The legislation was unveiled on February 5, 1937, and was the subject of Roosevelt’s 9th Fireside chat of March 9, 1937.[7][8] Three weeks after the radio address the Supreme Court published an opinion upholding a Washington state minimum wage law in West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish.[9] The 5–4 ruling was the result of the apparently sudden jurisprudential shift by Associate Justice Owen Roberts, who joined with the wing of the bench supportive to the New Deal legislation. Since Roberts had previously ruled against most New Deal legislation, his support here was seen as a result of the political pressure the president was exerting on the court. Some interpreted his reversal as an effort to maintain the Court’s judicial independence by alleviating the political pressure to create a court more friendly to the New Deal. This reversal came to be known as “the switch in time that saved nine”; however, recent legal-historical scholarship has called that narrative into question[10] as Roberts’s decision and vote in the Parrish case predated both the public announcement and introduction of the 1937 bill.[11]

Roosevelt’s legislative initiative ultimately failed. The bill was held up in the Senate Judiciary Committee by Democratic committee chair Henry F. Ashurst who delayed hearings in the Judiciary Committee saying, “No haste, no hurry, no waste, no worry—that is the motto of this committee.”[12] As a result of his delaying efforts, the bill was held in committee for 165 days, and opponents of the bill credited Ashurst as instrumental in its defeat.[5] The bill was further undermined by the untimely death of its chief advocate in the U.S. Senate, Senate Majority Leader Joseph T. Robinson. Contemporary observers broadly viewed Roosevelt’s initiative as political maneuvering. Its failure exposed the limits of Roosevelt’s abilities to push forward legislation through direct public appeal. Public perception of his efforts here was in stark contrast to the reception of his legislative efforts during his first term.[13][14] Roosevelt ultimately prevailed in establishing a majority on the court friendly to his New Deal legislation, though some scholars view Roosevelt’s victory as pyrrhic.[14]

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1888 – Selman Waksman, Jewish-American biochemist and microbiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1973)
Selman Abraham Waksman (July 22, 1888 – August 16, 1973) was a Ukrainian-born, Jewish-American inventor, biochemist and microbiologist whose research into organic substances—largely into organisms that live in soil—and their decomposition promoted the discovery of Streptomycin, and several other antibiotics. A professor of biochemistry and microbiology at Rutgers University for four decades, he discovered over twenty antibiotics (a word he coined) and introduced procedures that have led to the development of many others. The proceeds earned from the licensing of his patents funded a foundation for microbiological research, which established the Waksman Institute of Microbiology located on Rutgers University’s Busch Campus in Piscataway, New Jersey (USA). In 1952 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in recognition “for his discovery of “streptomycin,” the first antibiotic active against tuberculosis.” Waksman was later accused of playing down the role of Albert Schatz, a PhD student who did the work under Waksman’s supervision to discover streptomycin.[1]

In 2005 Selman Waksman was granted an ACS National Historical Chemical Landmark in recognition of the significant work of his lab in isolating more than fifteen antibiotics, including streptomycin, which was the first effective treatment for tuberculosis.[2]

Biography
Selman Waksman was born on July 22, 1888, to Jewish parents, in Nova Pryluka, Podolia Governorate, Russian Empire,[3] now Vinnytsia Oblast, Ukraine. He was the son of Fradia (London) and Jacob Waksman.[4] He immigrated to the United States in 1910, shortly after receiving his matriculation diploma from the Fifth Gymnasium in Odessa, and became a naturalised American citizen six years later.

Waksman attended Rutgers College (now Rutgers University), where he was graduated in 1915 with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Agriculture. He continued his studies at Rutgers, receiving a Master of Science (MSc) the following year. During his graduate study, he worked under J. G. Lipman at the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers performing research in soil bacteriology. Waksman was then appointed as Research Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley from where he was awarded his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Biochemistry in 1918.

Later he joined the faculty at Rutgers University in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology. It was at Rutgers that Waksman’s team discovered several antibiotics, including actinomycin, clavacin, streptothricin, streptomycin, grisein, neomycin, fradicin, candicidin, candidin, and others. Two of these, streptomycin and neomycin, have found extensive application in the treatment of numerous infectious diseases. Streptomycin was the first antibiotic that could be used to cure the disease tuberculosis. Waksman is credited with coining the term antibiotics, to describe compounds derived from other living organisms such as penicillin, though the term was first used by the French dermatologist François Henri Hallopeau, in 1871, to describe a substance opposed to the development of life.[5]

Many awards and honors were showered on Waksman after 1940, most notably the Nobel Prize in 1952; the Star of the Rising Sun, bestowed on him by the emperor of Japan, and the rank of Commandeur in the French Légion d’honneur.[3][6]

Selman Waksman died on August 16, 1973 and was interred at the Crowell Cemetery in Woods Hole, Barnstable County, Massachusetts. His tombstone is inscribed simply as Selman Abraham Waksman: Scientist, followed by his dates of birth and death, and the phrase “The earth will open and bring forth salvation” in Hebrew and English, which is a reference to Isaiah 45:8.[3][7]

He was the father of Byron Waksman, involved in Multiple sclerosis research .

Other little known contributions of Selman Waksman include anti-fouling paints for the Navy, the use of enzymes in detergents, and the use of Concord grape root stock to protect the French vineyards from fungal infection.

Streptomycin
Main article: Streptomycin

Waksman had been studying the Streptomyces family of organism since his college student days and had, for a time, been studying the organism Streptomyces griseus. Streptomycin was isolated from S. griseus and found effective against tuberculosis by one of Waksman’s graduate students, Albert Schatz.[8]

Controversy
The details and credit for the discovery of streptomycin and its usefulness as an antibiotic were strongly contested by Schatz, eventually leading to litigation.[9] Waksman and Rutgers settled out of court with Schatz, resulting in financial remuneration and entitlement to “legal and scientific credit as co-discoverer of streptomycin.”[10][11]

Systematic experiments to test several strains of antibiotic against several different disease organisms were under way in Waksman’s laboratory at the time. Their classic approach was to explore a complete matrix with rows consisting of antibiotics and columns consisting of different diseases. The bacteria which produced the antibiotic streptomycin was discovered by Schatz in the farmland outside his lab, and tested by him.[10] Waksman, however, eventually came to claim sole credit for the discovery.

Neomycin
Main article: Neomycin

Neomycin is derived from actinomycetes and was discovered by Waksman and Hubert A. Lechevalier, one of Waksman’s graduate students. The discovery was published in the journal Science.[12]

Nobel Prize
Waksman was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1952 “for his discovery of streptomycin, the first antibiotic effective against tuberculosis.”[13] In the award speech, Waksman was called “one of the greatest benefactors to mankind,” as the result of the discovery of streptomycin.[14] Schatz protested being left out of the award, but the Nobel committee ruled that he was a mere lab assistant working under an eminent scientist.[10]

In 1951,[15] using half of his personal patent royalties, Waksman created the Waksman Foundation for Microbiology.[16] At a meeting of the board of Trustees of the Foundation, held in July 1951 he urged the building of a facility for work in microbiology, named the Waksman Institute of Microbiology, which is located on the Busch campus of Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey. First president of the Foundation, Waksman was succeeded in this position by his son, Byron H. Waksman, from 1970 to 2000.

The Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology of the National Academy of Sciences is given in his honor.[17]

Publications

Selman Waksman was author or co-author of over 400 scientific papers, as well as twenty-eight books[3] and 14 scientific pamphlets.

Enzymes (1926)
Humus: origin, chemical composition, and importance in nature (1936, 1938)
Principles of Soil Microbiology (1938)
My Life with the Microbes (1954) (an autobiography)

 
 
 
 

One bullet.
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