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Michael Bobelian

Battle for the Marble Palace

Abe Fortas, Earl Warren, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and the Forging of the Modern Supreme Court

Schaffner 2020

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in LawNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network February 5, 2020 Ian J. Drake

Michael Bobelian has written a history of the nomination of Abe Fortas to be Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968. In...

Michael Bobelian has written a history of the nomination of Abe Fortas to be Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968. In Battle for the Marble Palace: Abe Fortas, Earl Warren, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and the Forging of the Modern Supreme Court (Schaffner, 2019), he reminds us of the intense political battle over Lyndon Johnson’s legacy nomination of then-associate justice Abe Fortas to the chief justiceship. Bobelian’s account, relying upon a wealth of archival materials, including primary sources from presidential libraries, Senate hearings, and interviews, recreates the political world of Washington, D.C. in the 1960s, during the height of the Warren Court’s influence. Bobelian assesses the motives for various actors, such as segregationist Strom Thurmond, moderate Robert Griffin, and liberals Abe Fortas and Earl Warren, in their roles in the nomination process. He makes the argument that the politicization of the nomination process did not begin with Robert Bork’s nomination in 1987, but truly began with the nomination of Fortas. Bobelian also considers the political and popular responses to the then-novel consistently activist Warren Court and how the Fortas nomination and the opposition to it were motivated by combinations of jurisprudential ideology, institutional prerogatives, and the dynamics of personal relationships.


Ian J. Drake is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University. His scholarly interests include American legal and constitutional history and political theory.