Arthur Goldberg

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Arthur Goldberg
Arthur Goldberg.jpg
Former the United States Ambassador to the United Nations
From: July 28, 1965 – June 24, 1968
President Lyndon Johnson
Predecessor Adlai Stevenson
Successor George Ball
Former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
From: September 28, 1962 – July 2, 1965
Nominator John F. Kennedy
Predecessor Felix Frankfurter
Successor Abe Fortas
9th United States Secretary of Labor
From: January 21, 1961 – September 20, 1962
President John F. Kennedy
Predecessor James P. Mitchell
Successor W. Willard Wirtz
Party Democrat
Spouse(s) Dorothy Kurgans
Religion Jewish

Arthur Joseph Goldberg (August 8, 1908 – January 19, 1990) was a U.S. Supreme Court justice nominated by John F. Kennedy to the position and confirmed by the Senate in 1962. A liberal Democrat, he later resigned in 1965 during the presidency to Lyndon B. Johnson to be appointed as ambassador to the United Nations. This was done at Johnson's urging so that Abe Fortas could be appointed to the position, who in turn was forced to resign in merely four years.


In the 1930s he was active in the Civil Liberties Committee, and was briefly a member of the far-left National Lawyers Guild.

Labor lawyer

Goldberg had established a name for himself as a leading labor law specialist with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and especially the Steelworkers Union. He helped purge the CIO of pro-Communist elements and was a strong supporter of anti-Communist programs in the Cold War. Labor was still a powerful part of the New Deal Coalition when President John F. Kennedy appointed him to be Secretary of Labor in 1961.

In 1963, after Justice Felix Frankfurter retired, Kennedy nominated Goldberg to fill the empty seat. Goldberg took his place on the bench in September 1962.[1]

Supreme Court

Goldberg joined the Court just as the Civil Rights Movement rose to the forefront of American politics, and many of the decisions made by the Court were related to this issue. Among the notable cases argued before the Court during Goldberg's tenure were Escobedo v. Illinois (1964), Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Committee (1963), and Zemel v. Rusk (1965). A committed liberal, Goldberg's short tenure on the bench was judged mainly ineffectual.[2]

United Nations

Three years after Goldberg took his seat on the Supreme Court, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked him to step down and accept an appointment as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Johnson wanted to use the seat to reward a friend, and Goldberg reluctantly agreed. On July 26, 1965, Goldberg assumed the responsibilities of Ambassador to the United Nations. The central issue was the Vietnam War, and Goldberg made little headway, so he resigned in 1968.

In January 1966 Goldberg summarized the 14 points of American policy regarding Vietnam:

"That the United States is prepared for discussions or negotiations without any prior conditions whatsoever or on the basis of the Geneva Accords of 1954 and 1962; that a reciprocal reduction of hostilities could be envisaged and that a cease-fire might be the first order of business in any discussions or negotiations; that the United States remains prepared to withdraw its forces from South Vietnam as soon as South Vietnam is in a position to determine its own future without external interference; that the United States desires no continuing military presence or bases in Vietnam; that the future political structure in South Vietnam should be determined by the South Vietnamese people themselves through democratic processes, and that the question of the reunification of the two Vietnams should be decided by the free decision of their two peoples."[3]

Goldberg Timeline

  • 1908 — Born, Chicago, IL
  • 1929 — B. S. L., Northwestern University
  • 1929 — Admitted to Illinois State Bar
  • 1930 — J.D., Northwestern University
  • 1929–1941 — Practiced law privately
  • 1937 — Admitted to Supreme Court Bar
  • 1942–1944 — Served to Major, U S Army, Office of Strategic Services
  • 1945–1961 — Partner, Goldberg, Devoe, Shadur & Mikva
  • 1945–1961 — General Counsel, Congress of Industrial Organizations
  • 1948–1961 — General Counsel, United Steel Workers of America
  • 1955–1961 — Special Counsel and General Counsel of Industrial Union Department, AFL-CIO
  • 1961–1962 — U.S. Secretary of Labor
  • 1962–1965 — Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
  • 1965–1968 — U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
  • 1968–1969 — Charles Evans Hughes Professor, Princeton University
  • 1968–1990 — Chairman, Truman Center for the Advancement of Peace
  • 1969–1970 — Distinguished professor, Columbia University
  • 1970 — Defeated as Democratic candidate for governor of New York
  • 1971–1973 — University Professor of Law and Diplomacy, American University
  • 1974–1990 — Visiting Distinguished Professor, Hastings College of the Law
  • 1977 — United States Ambassador to the Belgrade Conference on Human Rights
  • 1990 — Died

Further reading

  • Stebenne, David L. Arthur J. Goldberg: New Deal Liberal. (1996). 539 pp.


  1. Northwestern University
  2. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
  3. Arthur J. Goldberg, "The Search For Peace". Thought 1966 41(160): 45-51