Fortas: The Rise and Ruin of a Supreme Court Justice

Bruce Allen Murphy, Author William Morrow & Company $25 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-05357-4
Abe Fortas (1910-1982) was one of Washington's most powerful lawyers when President Lyndon Johnson appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1965. After serving three years as an associate justice, Fortas was nominated by Johnson to replace retiring Chief Justice Earl Warren. The 1968 confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee (which biographer Murphy calls a witch hunt) became the political spectacle of the year as Fortas's conflict-of-interest/extrajudicial activities were exposed to the limelight, and he became the focal point for long-simmering liberal vs. conservative resentments. The Senate refused to vote on the nomination, and Fortas was forced to resign from the Court following the disclosure of a compromising financial arrangement with convicted millionaire Louis Wolfson. Ironically, Fortas had firmly declined both the 1965 and 1968 nominations but was overwhelmed by LBJ's powers of persuasion. His reputation in tatters (his old law firm, which he co-founded, refused to take him back), Fortas practiced private law until his death. Murphy is also author of The Brandeis-Frankfurter Connection. Photos. First serial to the Washingtonian. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1988
Release date: 07/01/1988
Hardcover - 978-0-517-07545-6
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