• CMTU History

Episode 18: Battle for the Marble Palace




Remember when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace the late Antonin Scalia as a Justice on the Supreme Court in 2016 only to have that nomination complete shut down Senate Republicans? Or remember when President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Court resulting Kavanaugh's sexual history played out before the national media?


My guest today writes about the Supreme Court for a living and has quite thoughtfully asked if the nomination process has always been so brutal? Michael Bobelian is the author of Battle for the Marble Palace: Abe Fortas, Earl Warren, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and the Forging of the Modern Supreme Court in which he identifies the 1968 nomination of Abe Fortas to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as the turning point when what had been a mundane procedural vote became a bitter partisan feud.

Michael is himself a lawyer as well as a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He covers the Supreme Court and other legal subjects for Forbes, and has contributed to numerous publications including Reuters, the LA Times, and NPR.


Michael joined me for a fascinating Skype interview about the Fortas nomination and what that means for us today.



Key Points in Today's Podcast

Some of the major topics I discuss with Michael in this episode are:


  • The role of the Supreme Court in the judiciary and in the federal government as well as the role of Chief Justice on the Court

  • Earl Warren's background and why the Court he led in the 1950s and 1960s was so controversial

  • How Abe Fortas' nomination to the Court as an Associate Justice compared to his nomination to be Chief Justice

  • Why the makeup of the Supreme Court was so important to President Lyndon B. Johnson

  • What was the Fortas Film Festival?

  • How the Fortas nomination has shaped the nature of recent confirmations from Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump


For the Ever Curious

If you are interested in learning more about Michael Bobelian or the history of the U.S. Supreme Court, consider checking out these resources:

www.michaelbobelian.com - Michael's website includes information about himself and his books, but most impressively it contains a regularly updated list of the articles he publishes on the Supreme Court, Wall Street regulation, law, and book reviews.

Books by Michael Bobelian -


www.supremecourt.gov - The Supreme Court has its own website in which visitors can learn more about the Court's history, the current Justices, and recent opinions the Court has handed down.

  1. President Lyndon Johnson and Abe Fortas

  2. The Warren Court (Abe Fortas is standing, far left)

  3. Earl Warren and Vice President Richard Nixon

  4. Senator Strom Thurmond

  5. The Supreme Court as of May 2019 (Neil Gorsuch, standing far left, Brett Kavanaugh, standing, far right)

© 2018 by Can't Make This Up History Podcast.

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