Friday, November 16, 2012

Happy Birthday, Felix Frankfurter

On this date [Nov. 15] in 1882, Felix Frankfurter was born in Vienna, Austria.  (Hat tip:  Brad Snyder.)   Twelve years later, he and his family emigrated to New York City.  Young Felix soon learned English.  He excelled in school, read voraciously, hung out at Cooper Union, graduated from City College, graduated from Harvard Law School, became a lawyer, served as a federal prosecutor and in government offices in Washington, joined the Harvard Law School faculty, taught thousands, became a leading American legal academic, wrote widely for law specialists and for the general public, helped found the American Civil Liberties Union, advised and assisted numerous political candidates and public officials…. 

In June 1935, U.S. Treasury Department official Robert H. Jackson met Professor Frankfurter for the first time.  They were participating in a White House meeting about national tax policy.  Frankfurter, an active presidential advisor, also was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s houseguest. 

That Frankfurter-Jackson acquaintance developed, through continuing contacts and work together, into a deep friendship.  In January 1939, Jackson and others aggressively, successfully urged President Roosevelt to nominate Frankfurter to succeed Justice Benjamin Cardozo—who in 1919 had officiated at Frankfurter’s marriage to Marion Denman—on the Supreme Court of the United States. 

In summer 1941, FDR nominated Attorney General Jackson to the Supreme Court.  He was confirmed, joining Frankfurter on the bench for the entirety of Jackson’s judicial career.

You can read more at the Jackson List


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