The decision was handed down less than two months after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced his Court-packing Bill and it was widely seen as a reaction to that bill. Justice Roberts shifted his vote before President Roosevelt actually submitted his court-packing proposal to Congress. However, Roosevelt made his proposal public on March 9, 1937 during his 9th Fireside Chat. The high court's decision in West Coast Hotel was not handed down until after Roosevelt's public announcement (the decision was issued on March 29, 1937). Thus, Roosevelt's public announcement may have contributed to Justice Roberts' motivation for switching from his previous freedom of contract decisions. On the other hand, some historians argue that the Justices had voted on the case before the public announcement, so there is an on-going debate among historians on the accuracy of the traditional view.
The switch together with the resignation of Justice Willis Van Devanter a month later are often viewed as having contributed to the defeat of the Bill, preserving the size of the US Supreme Court at nine justices, as it remains to this day.