The Suspect, the Prosecutor, and the Unlikely Bond They Forged

smithsonian-imageAs attorney general of the United States in the 1930s, Homer Cummings announced the capture of Bruno Hauptmann in the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby. He built Alcatraz, the island prison. In the time of John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd and Bonnie and Clyde, he consolidated federal investigative units into what became the FBI. He fought incessant battles for New Deal legislation. And he was instrumental in one of the century’s great scandals, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s disastrous attempt to pack the Supreme Court. In fact, Cummings was chief architect of the plan, which was widely condemned; its true purpose of manufacturing a friendlier Supreme Court was buried under talk of judicial efficiency.

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