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Sunday, April 24, 2005

Strib does not tell full story on Fortas

--posted by Tony Garcia on 4/24/2005

This Strib editorial rips the GOP for ignoring history. The claim is that there have been many judicial nominees that have been killed via filibuster. I frankly do not care if there have been. My stand on this issue is that the filibuster is not a Constitutionally protected rule. In fact, I do not believe that the filibuster has any relevance in the Senate rules.

What caught my attention is the part about Abe Fortas whose promotion to Chief Justice was filibustered.

First what the Strib says about the situation.
President Lyndon Johnson nominated Supreme Court Associate Justice Abe Fortas to succeed Earl Warren as chief justice. Republicans, joined by a few conservative Southern Democrats, successfully filibustered Fortas' nomination. Cloture was rejected on a vote of 45 for cloture, 43 against. Fortas was denied the up-down vote on the Senate floor Coleman says he deserved.

Now, I bring this out of the editorial because the left has been parading Fortas' demise around often.

The facts about Abe Fortas show us what the Founders wanted "advice & consent" for. It was only a check & balance between the Judiciary and Executive by making certain that the Executive did not 'corrupt' the Judiciary with unqualified (or scandalous) appointees.

Abe Fortas was a friend of Lyndon B Johnson and was thus asked to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. That is no crime and I have no issue with that.

But his Senate appointment hearings became a fiasco when questions were raised about the propriety of Fortas accepting lecture fees while on the court. Republicans filibustered his confirmation vote, and Fortas asked that his nomination to chief justice be withdrawn.1

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.2

As a sitting justice, he regularly attended White House staff meetings; he briefed the president on secret Court deliberations; and, on behalf of the president, he pressured senators who opposed the war in Vietnam.3

A clear violation of the seperation of powers that this country relies upon...which also makes one wonder about the credibility of the Supreme Court decisions during Fortas' tenure!

So, the bottom line is that the Strib (and many other lefties) miss the point about Fortas' because it hits them in the gut on two fronts.

1) The filibuster blocking Fortas' was not a left-right issue but a right-wrong issue
2) The Fortas' case is exactly the only reason "advise & consent" exists. Not to impose the Senate's will upon the Executive appointments.


1The Crime Library


3US Senate


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