Talk:Abe Fortas

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External Link Added[edit]

A record for Fortas' papers at Yale is here http://yufind.library.yale.edu/yufind/Record/614502 and the finding aid for that collection is here: http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/mssa.ms.0858

I added a link to the finding aid in the external links section.

Should a mention be added in the section about the papers request from the LBJ Library?

Smatheson (talk) 15:10, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

Presidential Power?[edit]

The stub of a section on Fortas views of Executive power seems pointless to me. In the first place, the flat statement in the first sentence is NOT supported by the quote that follows. The view that historically the growth of executive power in the mid-20th century was necessary, does not necessarily translate into the belief that the legislature should be "less powerful." In the second place, the statement seems a throw away. It is not grounded in any discussion of jurisprudential debate at the time over the expansion of the executive (in part, I would submit, because it was not very controversial at the time) nor in any wider discussion of his ideological or philosophic views. It seems like just another excuse to quote from Kalman's bitter and critical biography. TheCormac (talk) 16:42, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

?[edit]


I'm not sure how the Republicans could have filibustered Fortas, as they had 24 votes against cloture and 10 votes for cloture. I'm changing the article to reflect that. _________________________________________________________________________________________ Should we perhaps include why Mr. Fotas has been in the news so much lately, and why we have so much information about his filibuster? -DG

That sounds good. Maybe we can try and get the exact names of the senators who voted for and against Fortas. I doubt southern democrats voted against him in large numbers.

Here's the senators who voted against cloture (19 Democrats, 24 Republicans): Democrats: Byrd (Va), Byrd (WVa), Cannon, Dodd, Eastland, Ervin, Fulbright, Hill, Holland, Hollings, Jordan, Lausche, Long, McClellan, Russell, Sparkman, Spong, Stennis, Talmadge. Republicans: Allott, Baker, Bennett, Boggs, Carlson, Cotton, Curtis, Dirksen, Fannin, Fong, Griffin, Hansen, Hickenlooper, Hruska, Jordan, Miller, Mundt, Murphy, Pearson, Prouty, Thurmond, Tower, Williams, Young.
Virtually all the Southern Democrats voted against cloture. The only exceptions were Gore (Tenn) and Randolph (WVa). (The two Maryland senators voted for cloture, not sure if Maryland is considered Southern. A Democratic senator from Louisiana, Ellender(?), did not vote either way)
This is as reported in the NY Times. I have access to the archive. Ydorb 15:40, May 9, 2005 (UTC)

Was the Byrd from WVa listed above is the current senator yes? That's very interesting. Great work on getting those names. I wish I knew how many of those southern dems ultimately left the party for the GOP.

Err...none of them. Byrd of Virginia stopped being able to win Democratic primaries and ran as an independent, but always caucused as a Democrat. The rest all stayed Democrats. Of the Democrats voting against cloture, I believe Cannon was from Nevada, Dodd from Connecticut, and I'm not sure where Lausche was from. The rest are all southerners. john k 21:41, 26 May 2005 (UTC)

Hmmm, that last sentence sounds a little biased -- "some GOP even deny the filibuster happened" -- if true, please state who exactly that was -- and meanwhile, flesh out a little bit what the "differences" are, which are mentioned immediately above -- i.e. that the filibuster against Fortas was based on allegations of misconduct rather than on judicial philosophy.

Per the Findlaw article referenced:
'On April 27, speaking on the Senate floor, Senator Hatch repeated his error. He said, "Some have said that the Abe Fortas nomination for Chief Justice was filibustered. Hardly. I thought it was, too, until I was corrected by the man who led the fight against Abe Fortas, Senator Robert Griffin of Michigan." Hatch then asserted that the former Senator told him, and the Senate Republican caucus, "that there never was a real filibuster because a majority would have beaten Justice Fortas outright." ' In fact Fortas never had an "up or down vote."
As for the Republicans claim that the Fortas filibuster was undertaken for ethical rather than political concerns, people around at the time know better. Johnson was a lame duck and the Republicans expected to win the next election and appoint the next Chief Justice (which is what happened). After Fortas withdrew, the Republicans made it clear that they would not allow anyone Johnson nominated to receive a vote. Also there were very similar ethical objections raised against Judge Owen, that she accepted gifts. Much of this is covered in the FindLaw link and the nuclear option (filibuster) article. --agr 20:13, 26 May 2005 (UTC)

Alleged inaccuracy[edit]

I would appreciate an explationation as to why the statement "filibusters are typically mounted by senators who doubt their ability to prevail on an up or down vote" is inaccurate, as claimed in a recent edit. Also it is indisputed that the Republicans came up with the name "nuclear option" to describe their proposal to effectively change Senate rules. --agr 13:56, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

My goodness, changing Senate rules? What a radical thing! 69.253.222.184 (talk) 23:22, 26 April 2008 (UTC)

Name[edit]

Is there any evidence that Abe Fortas's first name was actually Abraham? All sources I've seen call him merely Abe. User:Kalimac, 3 Oct 2005

I have been researching Fortas for over a year now. He is Abraham in many official documents from school records to court records.

You are wrong. He was my great uncle. His name was Abe. If you have any other questions about him, I would be glad to answer.

Fortas' second firm[edit]

What was the name of Fortas' second firm (i.e., the firm he founded after resigning from SCOTUS)?

Fortas and Koven, which was located in Georgetown on 31st Street in the Canal Square building. Fortas practiced there until he died. Wikikd (talk) 17:33, 22 September 2018 (UTC)

Corruption clarification[edit]

What is meant by "including 200 Johnson votes that had been cast in alphabetical order"? Perhaps this could be clarified. blahpers 21:57, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

2005 filibuster stuff[edit]

I removed this section and was soon after reverted. I have once again removed the information. The article here is about the life and times of Abe Fortas, Supreme Court justice. As such, the article should be about him and only him plus his legacy. The 2005 information is about filibusters. Now granted, the Fortas filibuster was discussed during the debate over whether or not to change the rules, but Fortas himself had no role in that debate. It was not his actions that were under review, merely an action taken in response to his nomination. Therefore, the fact that this filibuster would be discussed at a later date is not apart of Fortas's legacy. The wikipedia page on the senate filibuster needs to cover the 2005 developments, Fortas's page does not. There is quite simply no relation to Fortas's life and legacy and the fact that people wanted to change the filibuster rules at a later date. Indrian 15:07, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

The precedent set by the filibuster of the Fortas Chief Justice nomination is part of his legacy and arguably his most lasting place in American history. The fact that this event became part of a major news story in 2005, 23 years after his death is notable and worthy of inclusion in his bio. To exclude all reference to its current significance would be a disservice to our readers. I would agree that the section you deleted is too long and only a summary of the arguments is needed here.--agr 17:43, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
I am still not convinced that this is the proper place for this analysis, but the compromise you have set worth is satisfactory to me for the moment. I have slightly tweaked the section to tie it into his life a little more in the introductory sentence and to remove the heading, which seems to give unecessary focus to this issue since no other headings are found in the article. Indrian 19:14, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Changes of 7/5/07 to the opening paragraph[edit]

I have taken out the following text: "...for the acceptance of an allegedly illegal payment from a former business associate" from the summary paragraph for two reasons:

1. It is misleadingly broad brush. The kind of payment Fortas received was legal and not uncommon at the time. The problem was that he took it from a man seen as shady. Fortas was asked to resign because the whole thing seemed sleazy and sordid, not necessarily illegal. It is an important distinction. If someone had mounted a full-scale investigation, could they have uncovered some act that could be found to be criminal? Maybe, but who knows? No such investigation was mounted, or even prepared. Fortas' critics may have implied that something illegal might be involved in the affair, but they never actually "alleged" it.

2. It is gratuitous. The circumstances of Fortas’ resignation from the bench are dealt with in depth in the full article. Even if we were to grant the statement that Fortas' took "an allegedly illegal payment," the inclusion of such detail right up front is bad biography. The summary paragraph needs to have a few more sentences explaining why the guy's career was important from the broad standpoint of US history rather than this useless detail about his resignation. Resigned under pressure is enough for the casual user who wants to know who this guy is. Those interested in what kind of pressure and why can look below for the debated details.

Military service[edit]

I've added that Fortas joined the armed forces in 1945, but was discharged after a month. This is from the Court's official bio. What I cannot readily confirm is the allegation that this was a ruse to get him out of the service very early. The Blue Oyster Cult song "Harvester of Eyes". written by Richard Meltzer, with the line "I'm the eye-man of TV, with my ocular TB," makes reference to this....Meltzer says the televised Senate confirmation hearings on Fortas inspired the lyrics. It's just interesting, but not relevant to the article. But..someone should know! Scott Clarkson 13:14, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

Language bias in Resignation paragraph text[edit]


I think the use of the word "secret" in secret payment biases the text. Fortas accepted a payment from Wolfson, not sure on what basis it would be called "secret." Also, this language "expected that his arrangement with Fortas would help him stave off criminal charges or help him secure a presidential pardon;" was an allegation, not a fact. Those seeking Fortas' resignation (I would say "seat" but that would be biased) alleged that it was accepted in exchange for such "service" but this was never proved. Fortas did recuse himself from the matter when it came before the bench. So, I'd lose the word "secret" above and add the word "alleged" below.
Wikikd 02:45, 16 September 2007 (UTC) After thinking this over for a year and doing a bit of checking: yes Fortas did recuse himself from the matter --as added above. Also the text, in putting mention of the return of the money after mentioning Wolfson's conviction implies that the funds were returned after Wolfson was convicted...but they were returned earlier. So I moved that fact up to its own sentence before mention of W's conviction. --Wikikd (talk) 02:16, 26 September 2008 (UTC)Wikikd

Bot-created subpage[edit]

A temporary subpage at User:Polbot/fjc/Abe Fortas was automatically created by a perl script, based on this article at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. The subpage should either be merged into this article, or moved and disambiguated. Polbot (talk) 20:53, 4 March 2009 (UTC)


Absence of Ethics problems discussion[edit]

How in the WORLD is there not an iota of mention of the ethics problems of Fortas that caused his nomination to be revoked? This is an amazing omission. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 141.164.83.136 (talk) 19:18, 10 November 2010 (UTC)

Thank you for your suggestion. When you believe an article needs improvement, please feel free to make those changes. Wikipedia is a wiki, so anyone can edit almost any article by simply following the edit this page link at the top. The Wikipedia community encourages you to be bold in updating pages. Don't worry too much about making honest mistakes—they're likely to be found and corrected quickly. If you're not sure how editing works, check out how to edit a page, or use the sandbox to try out your editing skills. New contributors are always welcome. You don't even need to log in (although there are many reasons why you might want to). TJRC (talk) 05:42, 11 November 2010 (UTC)

Factual inaccuracy in Epperson v. Arkansas section[edit]

"Fortas was the architect and author of the broader landmark majority opinion in Epperson v. Arkansas that eventually emerged banning religiously-based creation narratives from public school science curricula."

This isn't what the case did at all, the case simply overturned laws banning the teaching of evolution in public schools (so-called Monkey Laws). Perhaps an edit should be made to reflect this. See Epperson v. Arkansas#Consequences — Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.206.92.227 (talk) 23:17, 15 May 2013 (UTC)

Role as Johnson's advisor in Viet Nam[edit]

I am finally reading Stanley Karnow's book about the Viet Nam war. On page 436 he makes an interesting case that during the period of time that LBJ was making the decisions that escalated the Viet Nam war his closest and most influential advisor was Abe Fortas. I am surprised that there is no mention of this on his Wikipedia page. I don't feel it is my place to edit the page myself. I am not an expert on the Johnson presidency or the history of the Supreme Court. I am requesting that someone who is look it over, and decide if this information be included. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 66.61.20.206 (talk) 13:17, 4 March 2014 (UTC)

AFROYIM v. RUSK[edit]

wasn't this an extremely important case involving Abe Fortas? is there a reason why it isn't mentioned? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.147.121.191 (talk) 18:18, 8 April 2015 (UTC)

Afroyim v. Rusk exists. Did Fortas have an important role in the case? - Location (talk) 19:46, 8 April 2015 (UTC)

It was a 5-4 case, Fortas voted with the majority. I had thought Fortas wrote the majority opinion; but apparently all 5 who voted in favor of Afroyim co-wrote the majority opinion. A link to the Afroyim case wiki page from this page would be a good idea as it was a huge case and a 5-4 vote. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.147.121.191 (talk) 12:33, 10 April 2015 (UTC)

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External links modified[edit]

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