WASHINGTON (Oct. 3)
Anti-Semitism was the basis of organized letter-writing campaigns against the now withdrawn nomination of Abe Fortas for United States Chief Justice, but bigots were unable to convert the issue into an asset, observers reported today. Speculation is rife about who – if anyone – Mr. Johnson may nominate in the wake of his acceptance of Mr. Fortas’ request that the latter’s candidacy to succeed Earl Warren on the High Court be withdrawn.
Mr. Fortas will stay on as Associate Justice, at least until the end of the term which begins next Monday. Mr. Fortas asked that his name be withdrawn to end the “destructive and extreme assaults on the Court.” He submitted his letter to Mr. Johnson following Tuesday’s Senate vote in which supporters of his nomination failed by a wide margin to curtail a filibuster by his critics.
A name prominently circulated for the Chief Justiceship is former Associate Justice Arthur J. Goldberg, now president of the American Jewish Committee and in private law practice with a New York firm. President Johnson persuaded Mr. Goldberg to leave the court in 1965 to become United Nations Ambassador. When Mr. Goldberg resigned the post in April there were unconfirmed reports that he and Mr. Johnson had split over Vietnam policy. It is believed that a coolness has existed between them ever since. Earlier this week Sen. J. William Fulbright, Arkansas Democrat, suggested that Mr. Johnson withdraw the Fortas nomination and appoint Mr. Goldberg, saying the latter was entitled to reappointment because he was persuaded to leave the court. (The New York Times reported today that “Senate confirmation of Mr. Goldberg could lay to rest persistent reports – staunchly denied by anti-Fortas forces – that the issue had become caught up in anti-Semitism.”)