In 1932, Congress decided to demonstrate its fiscal discipline (during the Depression) by reducing the pension for federal judges by half. Justice Willis Van Devanter (depicted right) was planning to retire following the presidential election that FDR won. So was Justice George Sutherland. They both put off their plans, though, because they couldn’t afford to retire on that reduced pension.
In 1933, Congress restored the pension to its original level, but the damage was done. The two justices no longer saw their pension as guaranteed and decided to stay on the Court for several more years. In that place, they were two of the “Four Horseman” who led the charge against the New Deal. Had they retired in 1933 or 1934, the Court-packing fight would almost certainly have not happened. (Ironically, an increase in the pension in 1937 helped convinced Van Devanter to retire that summer.)