1939 January 10

Hearings on Frankfurter Nomination for Supreme Court Degenerate into Farce


Hearings on the nomination of Felix Frankfurter for the Supreme Court on this day degenerated into a “farce,” as witnesses presented anti-communist and anti-semitic arguments against his nomination. One witness repeatedly mentioned that Frankfurter was Jewish. When asked if he opposed the nomination because Frankfurter is Jewish, the witness said “No,” but then stated that his views correspond with the protocols of communism.” Another witness noted Frankfurter’s membership on the National Committee of the ACLU and, as a consequence, was a “collaborator” with “a number of notorious reds.” The same witness also said the Frankfurter’s record shows that he is more loyal to the Jewish people than the United States.

Felix Frankfurter was a founding member of the ACLU (January 19, 1920); was the leading expert on labor injunctions, which were heavily used in the 1920s to suppress labor unions (September 1, 1922), and which were finally outlawed by the Norris-LaGuardia Act (March 23, 1932).

Frankfurter was easily confirmed and took his seat as a Justice of the Supreme Court on January 20, 1939.

Read: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/supremecourt/rights/robes_frankfurter.html

Watch a Discussion of Justice Frankfurter by his law clerk (the first African-American Supreme Court law clerk): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8K8cM3pYPp8

Read: Liva Baker, Felix Frankfurter (1969)

Learn more: Peter Irons, A People’s History of the Supreme Court (1999)

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