Abe Fortas

Abe Fortas (fôr´təs), 1910–82, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1965–69), b. Memphis, Tenn. After receiving his law degree from Yale in 1933, he taught there (1933–37) and also held a variety of government posts. He was (1942–46) undersecretary of the interior before entering private law practice. Among his notable contributions to criminal law were his arguments in the Durham Case (1954), which helped broaden the definition of legal insanity, and in Gideon v. Wainwright (1962), in which the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that states must assure free legal counsel to the poor in every criminal trial. A close friend and adviser to President Lyndon B. Johnson, he was appointed by the president to succeed Arthur Goldberg on the Supreme Court. There he continued to support the expansion of criminal rights and joined with the other liberal justices in most civil liberties cases. In antimonopoly cases, he often sided with the minority in upholding business. In 1968, President Johnson nominated Fortas as chief justice of the United States; Republicans and Southern Democrats held a Senate filibuster against the nomination, causing President Johnson to withdraw Fortas's nomination. The following year, Fortas resigned from the court after it was revealed that he had, while on the bench, accepted $20,000 from a private foundation; the money was part of a life stipend to Fortas by the foundation. Although he returned the money, Fortas resigned from the court under public pressure, the first justice to do so.

See R. Shogan, A Question of Judgment: The Fortas Case and the Struggle for the Supreme Court (1972).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Abe Fortas: Selected full-text books and articles

The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Opinions By Leon Friedman; Fred L. Israel Chelsea House, vol.4, 1997
Librarian's tip: Includes "Abe Fortas"
Supremely Political: The Role of Ideology and Presidential Management in Unsuccessful Supreme Court Nominations By John Massaro State University of New York Press, 1990
Librarian's tip: Chap. 2 "Presidential Management: The Fortas Nomination"
Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973 By Robert Dallek Oxford University Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: "Fortas and the Supreme Court" begins on p. 232
Justices and Presidents: A Political History of Appointments to the Supreme Court By Henry J. Abraham Oxford University Press, 1992 (3rd edition)
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Abe Fortas begins on p. 285
Lyndon Baines Johnson and the Uses of Power By Bernard J. Firestone; Robert C. Vogt Greenwood Press, 1988
Librarian's tip: Chap. 10 "Abe Fortas: Presidential Adviser"
The Morality of First Amendment Jurisprudence By Schlafly, Phyllis Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 31, No. 1, Winter 2008
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Sixth Amendment in Modern American Jurisprudence: A Critical Perspective By Alfredo Garcia Greenwood Press, 1992
Librarian's tip: "The Paradigm: Gideon v. Wainwright" begins on p. 8
The Duty to Defend By Babcock, Barbara Allen The Yale Law Journal, Vol. 114, No. 6, April 2005
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