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Former Justice Arthur Goldberg

January 28, 1990

Our country lost a great American when Arthur J. Goldberg passed away (Part A, Jan. 20). One regret is that he left without writing his memoirs.

It would have been historically important to reveal in detail how President Lyndon Johnson persuaded him to leave the Supreme Court for the United Nations ambassadorship. As a dear friend since World War II Arthur told me the story several times, but it deserved public revelation.

In effect, Johnson insisted that Goldberg alone, with his vast labor negotiation experience, could help negotiate world peace at the U.N., that it was his duty to mankind to make such use of his talents. He then looked Arthur in the eye and said, "As your commander in chief I am directing you to undertake that responsibility." How could anyone refuse the President of the United States, Goldberg would ask rhetorically. However, the potential development of another Louis Brandeis or William Brennan was thwarted.

It was not long before disillusionment set in. As United Nations ambassador Goldberg did not have free rein; he was subject to directions from the State Department and the White House. And it was soon apparent that the real reason he was asked to leave the Supreme Court was to make room for President Johnson's personal associate Abe Fortas.

My wife and I will miss the heartwarming visits with Arthur Goldberg and his late wife, Dorothy, both here in California and in Washington. More sadly, the nation will miss his wise counsel.


Supreme Court Justice

San Francisco

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