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Reagan Nominates Jewish Judge to Serve on the Supreme Court

President Reagan nominated U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Douglas Ginsburg as an associate justice of the Supreme Court Thursday. If confirmed by the Senate, he would be the sixth Jew to serve on the high court, the first since 1969.

Reagan made the announcement before a cheering audience in the East Room of the White House. He urged the Senate to act quickly to prevent the type of opposition that led to the rejection by the Senate last Friday of his first nominee to replace Justice Lewis Powell, Judge Robert Bork.

Reagan said the 41-year-old Ginsburg is “unpretentious” and “highly respected by his peers.” He noted that Ginsburg was confirmed unanimously last year when he was named to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Ginsburg, who was born in Chicago, is not active in Jewish affairs, according to Jewish sources here. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Chicago Law School. He was a law clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall.

An assistant professor and then professor at the Harvard Law School from 1975 to 1983, Ginsburg served the Reagan administration first as an official in the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and then in the Office of Management and Budget. He returned to the Justice Department in 1985 as an assistant attorney general in charge of the Antitrust Division.

Ginsburg has specialized in antitrust and economic regulations and not has written about civil rights and social issues, the areas which brought about the opposition to Bork. Reagan noted that while a conservative, Ginsburg nevertheless has won the respect of liberals.

Before Thursday’s announcement there had been speculation that Reagan would name either a Jew or a woman to the court to blunt criticism from two of the major groups that had been opposed to the Bork nomination.

The first Jew named to the Supreme Court was Louis Brandeis, who served from 1916 to 1939. He was followed by Benjamin Cardozo, 1932-38; Felix Frankfurter, 1939-62; Arthur Goldberg, 1962-65; and Abe Fortas, 1965-69.

Goldberg resigned from the court when President Johnson named him ambassador the United Nations. Fortas resigned after charges of improper conduct. In 1968, Johnson sought to name Fortas as chief justice, but Senate conservatives blocked the confirmation until Johnson left office.

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