Faced with the pending resignation of Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Supreme Court’s longtime liberal kingpin, President Lyndon Johnson named his close advisor Abe Fortas to become Warren’s successor. What Washington pundits believed would be a routine confirmation that would cement LBJ’s legacy instead ignited a fractious war between liberals and conservatives eager to seize control of the judicial body.
On the 50th Anniversary of the final days of Fortas’s tenure as a justice and Warren’s retirement in the spring of 1969, Battle for the Marble Palace provides a timely portrayal of the major contenders who clashed over this seminal moment in the Court’s history, and details the Machiavellian maneuvers on both sides of the aisle to secure ideologically driven justices for a coming generation.
Bobelian reveals the unprecedented machinations that were perpetrated to capture the Court, including LBJ’s removal of two justices to make room for his favorites, the Senate’s first filibuster against a Court nominee, and Strom Thurmond’s airing of pornographic movies to showcase Fortas’s moral turpitude, while Richard Nixon, in his zeal to win the presidency, stoked the fires of hatred and bigotry to transform the Court into a political weapon.
Praise for Battle for the Marble Palace
Such a fascinating read.
—Michael Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correspondent, Yahoo News, formerly at NBC News and the Washington Post
Battle for the Marble Palace has all that one would want in a book—political intrigue, characters larger than life, and high stakes. In a gripping and accessible fashion, it reads like a thriller, not a dry history of an embattled nomination of a Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.... The history is an absolute “must read” for Supreme Court watchers as well as political junkies, history buffs, and mystery book readers.
—Kevin R. Johnson, Dean, University of California, Davis School of Law
Conventional wisdom dictates that the debasement of Supreme Court confirmations dates to 1987 and Judge Robert Bork.... Michael Bobelian makes the compelling argument that the mess really began in 1968. If you don’t like what’s become of the process, a pox belongs on both political parties. This thoughtful book explains why.
—David A. Kaplan, former legal affairs editor, Newsweek and author of The Most Dangerous Branch: Inside the Supreme Court’s Assault on the Constitution
Beautifully crafted and rooted in deep research, Battle For The Marble Palace conveys the characters, context, and drama of an era whose shadow we have never escaped. I learned something I didn't know on almost every page.
—Allen Matusow, Former Dean of Humanities, Rice University, Academic Affairs Director, Baker Institute for Public Policy, and author of The Unraveling of America: A History of Liberalism in the 1960s
Michael Bobelian’s talents as a legal historian are matched by his storyteller’s flair.... This book ranks among the very best chronicles of the politics of judicial selection.
—Mark Obbie, Former Executive Editor, American Lawyer magazine and co-founder, Syracuse University’s Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media
Battle for the Marble Palace tells a very important story with fresh insight and perspective about a time when a sinkhole first developed at the busy intersection of politics and the judiciary.—Stephen Wermiel, former Supreme Court reporter at the Wall Street Journal and co-author, Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion
If you think that the era of tumultuous Supreme Court nominations began with Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas or Brett Kavanaugh, this book resets the clock.
—Tony Mauro & Marcia Coyle, Supreme Court Reporters at American Lawyer Media
Michael Bobelian presents this history with compelling portraits.... This has been a forgotten story of the Court, and Bobelian tells it in a highly readable fashion.
—Lucas A. Powe Jr., Professor, University of Texas School of Law and author of The Warren Court and American Politics
Battle for the Marble Palace is a brilliant evocation of a critical moment in the Court’s history, combining political biography, legal analysis, and insider reporting that will be sure to resonate with the next Supreme Court nomination.
—Thomas Brom, former Senior Editor, California Lawyer magazine
A gifted writer, Michael Bobelian offers a thoroughly researched narrative on the modern nomination process.
—John Kyle Day, Professor, University of Arkansas (Monticello) and author of The Southern Manifesto: Massive Resistance and the Fight to Preserve Segregation