born June 19, 1910, Memphis, Tenn., U.S. died April 6, 1982, Washington, D.C. lawyer and associate justice of the United States Supreme Court (196569). Nominated chief justice in 1968, he became the first nominee for that post since 1795 to fail to receive Senate approval. The following year he became the first Supreme Court justice to resign under threat of impeachment. Fortas' father, an Orthodox Jew, had immigrated to the United States from England. Fortas graduated from Yale Law School in 1933, first in his class. A protg of future justice William O. Douglaswho was then teaching law at Yalehe remained there as assistant professor of law until 1937, when he followed Douglas to the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. Fortas held a number of government posts before entering private law practice in 1946. The law firm that he cofounded represented the Washington interests of many of the country's largest corporations. In 1963 Fortas successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court the case of Gideon v. Wainwright, which established the right of the accused in criminal trials to counsel, regardless of ability to pay. President Lyndon Johnson nominated Fortas, an old and trusted friend, to the Supreme Court in 1965. Three years later he nominated him to replace retiring Chief Justice Earl Warren. Fortas generally had sided with the liberal court majority, and his nomination was quickly assailed by various critics. When the nomination came to the Senate floor, a filibuster ensued. Shortly afterward, Fortas requested that his name be withdrawn, and the president complied. In 1969, Fortas' earlier financial involvement with a financier who was subsequently imprisoned for securities violations appeared likely to precipitate impeachment proceedings in Congress; in May Fortas resigned, returning to private practice.
Meaning of FORTAS, ABE in English
Britannica English vocabulary. Английский словарь Британика. 2012