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Felix Frankfurter Biography

When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933, Frankfurter guided him on New Deal laws. Frankfurter was named to the Supreme Court in 1939. He retired after more than two decades on the seat and expired on February 22, 1965 in Washington, D.C.

He grew up poor on Nyc ‘s Lower East Side with five siblings. His dad did his best to support the family, employed as a retailer. Frankfurter came from a learned and spiritual family with several members who have been rabbis within the generations, and he proved to be somewhat brilliant in his own right early on. Despite knowing no English at first, Frankfurter managed to shine in his studies in public school. Among his first jobs as a lawyer was at work of Henry L. Stimson, then the U.S. attorney for the Southern District. Frankfurter served as an assistant to Stimson, whom he greatly respected.

Frankfurter continued his relationship with Stimson over recent years. Stimson helped him win a place in the Department of War’s Bureau of Insular Affairs during President William Howard Taft’s government. Around this same time, Frankfurter became buddies with Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. He instructed classes on Constitutional and administrative law. He also became chairman of the War Labor Policies Board, managing labour disputes throughout the country.

To improve the development of a Jewish state, Frankfurter attended the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919. He did not practice his Jewish religion, but he was a lifelong supporter of Jewish causes. Frankfurter shortly returned to work at Harvard. While teaching in the university, he became among the creators of the American Civil Liberties Union. He was likewise an outspoken critic of the Sacco Vanzetti case, in which two Italian Americans with revolutionary political ties were convicted of homicide and robbery.

Frankfurter found himself challenged by some in his congressional hearing on his work together with the ACLU, with one senator requesting him about a connection involving the ACLU and Communism. Frankfurter responded the organization had “no connection to Communism, except that if a Communist promised the protection of the Constitution, the American Civil Liberties Union will be within its rights and obligation to see he got that constitutional protection,” according to The New York Times.

Frankfurter’s nomination was approved that January, and he took the bench after that month. He was the third Jewish Supreme Court justice, following Benjamin Cardozo and Louis Brandeis, using the latter stepping down the exact same year. While he was a champion of civil liberties, Frankfurter supported the limit or constraint of the freedoms in a few cases. He composed the majority opinion for Minersville School District v. Gobitis (1940), which said that a school district could compel its pupils to salute the flag. The suit was filed with a family who objected to the practice on spiritual reasons.

Frankfurter stepped down from his position using the Supreme Court in 1962 after suffering a stroke. The next year, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon B. Johnson. Days after suffering a heart attack, Frankfurter expired in the age of 82 on February 22, 1965, in Washington, D.C. He was survived by his own wife, Marion, whom he married in 1919.

Felix Frankfurter Biography