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View Diary: Thomas's ongoing ethics problem, and Chris Murphy's potential solution (55 comments)

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  •  Recent evidence of ethics problems on the (6+ / 0-)

    Supreme Court - Abe Fortas during the Nixon Administration:

    Fortas remained on the bench, but in 1969, a new scandal arose. Fortas had accepted a $20,000 retainer from the family foundation of Wall Street financier Louis Wolfson, a friend and former client, in January 1966. Fortas signed a contract with Wolfson's foundation; in return for unspecified advice, it was to pay Fortas $20,000 a year for the rest of Fortas's life (and then pay his widow for the rest of her life). Wolfson was under investigation for securities violations at the time and it is alleged that he expected that his arrangement with Fortas would help him stave off criminal charges or help him secure a presidential pardon; he did ask Fortas to help him secure a pardon from LBJ, which Fortas claimed that he did not do. Fortas recused himself from Wolfson's case when it came before the Court and had returned the retainer, but not until Wolfson had been indicted twice.

    In 1970, after Fortas had resigned from the Court, Louis Wolfson surreptitiously taped a private telephone call with Fortas. The transcript of this call was disclosed by Wolfson's lawyer, Bud Fensterwald, to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in 1977. The Washington Post subsequently published several excerpts from the transcript, including language suggesting that Fortas might have indeed spoken with LBJ about a pardon for Wolfson, but there is no evidence that this intervention was a quid pro quo rather than a voluntary intervention for a friend. Wolfson was convicted of violating federal securities laws later that year and spent time in prison.
    The new Richard Nixon administration became aware of the Wolfson deal when a Life reporter began investigating the story; FBI director J. Edgar Hoover also mentioned a "tax dodge" Fortas had entered into with other judges, and Nixon concluded Fortas should be "off of there".

    When Chief Justice Earl Warren was informed of the incident by the new Attorney General John N. Mitchell, he persuaded Fortas to resign to protect the reputation of the Court and avoid lengthy impeachment proceedings, which were in their preliminary stages; Fortas's judicial reputation was also affected by the previous Johnson consultation and American University scandals. Justice Hugo Black also urged Fortas to resign, but when Fortas said it would "kill" his wife, Black changed his mind and urged Fortas not to resign.  Fortas eventually decided resignation would be best for him and for his wife's legal career, and told his colleagues. William J. Brennan later said, "We were just stunned."  Fortas later said he "resigned to save Douglas", another justice who was being investigated for a similar scandal at the same time.

    President Nixon eventually appointed as his replacement Harry A. Blackmun, after the previous nominations of Clement F. Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell failed. The seat was vacant for nearly the entire 1969–70 term.

    Fuck with the truth at your own peril. -Anonymous

    by thenekkidtruth on Thu Jun 23, 2011 at 11:31:33 AM PDT

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