For Smarter Than Thou

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Annie, May 17, 2005.

  1. Annie

    Annie Diamond Member

    Nov 22, 2003
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    Abe Fortus, trying to get past the 'jabber' there are more links than you have time for:

    He served as general counsel of the Public Works Administration and as Undersecretary of the Interior during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. While he was working at the Department of the Interior, the Secretary of the Interior, Harold L. Ickes, introduced him to a young congressman from Texas, Lyndon Johnson.

    After leaving government service, Fortas started the firm Arnold, Fortas & Porter. It became one of Washington's most influential law firms.

    In 1948, Lyndon Johnson ran for the Democratic nomination for one of Texas' seats in the US Senate. He won the primary by only 87 votes. His opponent convinced a federal judge to issue an order taking Johnson's name off of the general election ballot while the primary results were being contested; there were serious allegations of corruption in the voting process, including 200 Johnson votes that had been cast in alphabetical order. Johnson asked Fortas for help, and Fortas persuaded a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Hugo Black, to overturn the ruling. Johnson became a U.S. Senator, winning the general election.

    In 1962, Fortas was asked to represent Clarence Earl Gideon's appeal before the Supreme Court. Gideon, a poor man from Florida, had been convicted of breaking into a pool hall. He could not afford a lawyer, and none was provided for him. Fortas and a team of attorneys from his firm spent months preparing the appellate brief, and won a unanimous decision from the Supreme Court for Gideon. This decision, Gideon v. Wainwright, solidified the constitutional right to have legal counsel.

    In 1965, Lyndon Johnson, now President, persuaded Supreme Court Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg to resign his seat to become Ambassador to the United Nations. He then appointed his longtime friend, Abe Fortas, to the court. Fortas was initially reluctant to give up his substantial salary, but he eventually accepted.

    When Chief Justice Earl Warren announced his retirement in June 1968, Johnson nominated Fortas to replace Warren as Chief Justice. However, Fortas' confirmation by the United States Senate was in trouble. He had accepted $15,000 for speaking engagements at the American University law school. While not illegal, it raised much criticism about the court's insulation from private interests. The nomination set off a four day filibuster led by Republicans and southern Democrats ("Dixiecrats"). A "cloture" motion to end the filibuster failed. At that time, 66 votes were needed to stop debate. The vote was 45-43, with 10 Republicans and 35 Democrats voting for cloture and 24 Republicans and 19 Democrats voting against cloture. The 12 other remaining Democrats were not present. Fortas then withdrew his name from consideration. The next president, Richard Nixon, a Republican, appointed Warren E. Burger as Chief Justice.

    In 1969, a new scandal arose. Fortas had accepted a $20,000 fee from a foundation controlled by Louis Wolfson. Wolfson was a financier who was under investigation for violating Federal securities laws. He was later convicted and spent time in prison. Wolfson was also a friend and former client of Fortas. Under intense congressional scrutiny, including a threat of impeachment, Fortas resigned from the court. President Nixon appointed as his replacement Harry A. Blackmun, who later authored the controversial Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the U.S.

    Fortas was the author of Concerning Dissent and Civil Disobedience.

    In 1939, he married Carolyn E. Agger, a successful tax lawyer. They had no children.

    In 2005 Abe Fortas again became a focus of controversy as the Republicans attempt to change Senate rules to eliminate filibusters of judicial appointments, a plan they originally called the "nuclear option." Democrats cite the Fortas filibuster as a precedent for their more recent filibusters. Republicans have tried to point out differences between their 1968 actions and what the Democrats have done and some even deny the Fortas filibuster ever happened.
  2. MyName

    MyName Guest

    DK, you owe me yet another 5 bucks.
    toldja it was only a matter of time

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