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Supreme Court Justices

Arthur Goldberg (1908-1990)

Arthur Goldberg was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 8, 1908. Goldberg was the son of Russian immigrant parents, and the youngest of their eight children. In 1929, he graduated from Northwestern University Law School, whose Dean was John Henry Wigmore, the evidence scholar. Goldberg was a prominent labor lawyer, and responsible for the merger of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO) into the AFL-CIO in 1955. Goldberg was named Secretary of Labor by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. After the retirement of Justice Felix Frankfurter in 1962, Goldberg was appointed to the Court's "Jewish seat" by Kennedy. It was Goldberg's appointment to the Court that allowed the formation of the "Warren Court" as it is understood historically, for Goldberg became a crucial fifth vote (in addition to Earl Warren, William Brennan, William O. Douglas, and Hugo Black). Goldberg concurred in the right to privacy case of Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), basing his opinion on the Ninth Amendment (which states, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.").

In mid-1965, after a mere three years on the Court, Goldberg resigned to become the United States representative to the United Nations, after President Lyndon Baines Johnson used some of his legendary persuasive power on Goldberg. LBJ wanted to appoint his friend and confidante Abe Fortas to the Court, and created an opening on the Court to do so. LBJ would successfully create another opening on the Court to appoint Thurgood Marshall to the Court, but his effort to name Fortas Chief Justice and to appoint his fellow Texan Homer Thornberry to the Court in 1968 failed disastrously.

Goldberg resigned from his position as UN representative in 1968. He worked for human rights causes for the remaining 22 years of his life. Goldberg died in 1990.

Goldberg married Dorothy Kurgans in 1931.