WASHINGTON (Jan. 5)
Felix Frankfurter was nominated by President Roosevelt today to the United States Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo on July 8. The White House announced that the name of the Harvard Law School professor had been sent to the Senate for confirmation.
Reports that Prof. Frankfurter would be named to the highest bench had been current for months. He was sponsored on Capitol Hill by Senator Norris, who had urged him for the post as the man who most “fully and truly represents the philosophy of government of Justice Holmes and his successor, Justice Cardozo.”
Prof. Frankfurter, who is 56, has been active in Jewish causes, particularly in the Zionist movement. He was a member of the Zionist delegation at the Paris Peace Conference. More recently, the Zionist General Council in August, 1937, selected him as an alternative member of the Zionist Executive’s consultative political council. Last month he was named to the board of directors of the American Friends of the Hebrew University. He has visited Palestine three times, the last time in 1934, and has written a number of pamphlets and articles on the Holy Land.
The Harvard professor, a close friend of President Roosevelt, obtained considerable newspaper attention as a New Deal adviser. He was reputed to have drafted some of the New Deal legislation. Anti-Semitic groups, seeking to attack the administration, chose him as their chief target. He was a member of President Roosevelt’s so-called “brain trust.” General Hugh S. Johnson, former NRA administrator, has called him “the most influential single individual in the United States.”
Prof. Frankfurter will be the third Jew to be a member of the highest tribunal, the others being Justice Cardozo and Justice Louis D. Brandeis, who has been reported to be considering the possibility of retirement. There had been some opposition to the Harvard professor’s appointment from those who believed that it would increase anti-Semitic sentiment. This attitude was criticized by Secretary of Interior Harold L. Ickes in two public addresses and by several newspaper commentators, among them Heywood Broun.
While he has been influential in the administration, the Supreme Court seat will be Prof. Frankfurter’s first high public office. In 1932, when nominated to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, he declined on the ground that “I have other responsibilities which I feel I ought not to sever.” In addition, it is generally known that he could have had the post of Solicitor General, but did not wish to accept it.
His previous public service was. Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, 1908 to 1910; law officer of the Bureau of Insular Affairs of the War Department, 1911 to 1914; chairman of the War Labor Policies Board, 1918; Judge Advocate of the Officers Reserve Corps, United States Army; assistant to the Secretary of War, assistant to the Secretary of Labor and secretary and counsel to the President’s Mediation Commission.
The “other responsibilities” which hitherto prevented Prof. Frankfurter from accepting high public office were mainly his position at Harvard Law School. Serving at Harvard since 1914, he has achieved a reputation as one of the foremost legal educators in the country. His devotion to his teaching position has been motivated by his belief that “the future direction of bar and bench will be determined by the quality of our law schools.”
Last May the National Institute of Immigrant Welfare conferred on Prof. Frankfurter a scroll of honor as one of the “distinguished citizens of foreign birth who have made significant contributions to American life.” Born in Vienna on Non. 15, 1882, he was only 12 when he came to the United States. He was educated at the College of the City of New York and at Harvard University. After a period in the private practice of law, he went into the Government service and then was named to Harvard Law School. Prof. Frankfurter married Marion A. Denman in 1919.