Larry M. Roth

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With 1965 an era both ended and began. That year the American consciousness over the Vietnam War was truly awakened to the sound of far off howitzers. Also that year, Abe Fortas was nominated and confirmed by the Senate for the Supreme Court seat vacated by Arthur Goldberg. The reverberations of both phenomena still exist although the former permeates our social order much more than the latter. Quite recently, however, we witnessed a positive by-product of the Fortas appointment: the appointment of John Paul Stevens to the Supreme Court. With Stevens' nomination the appointive process witnessed a selection procedure that was open and carefully considered, quite unlike the Fortas affair. The result was an appointee publicly acknowledged as well qualified and acclaimed by the Bar as its choice with the highest recommendation. The nominee received wide support and recognition, for, in effect, a wide number of in-government and out-of-government sectors participated in the selection process. And the nominee was of a judicial tenor for he was himself a product of the Bench. But Abe Fortas and the year 1965 was a different time, a different day and a different way of doing things.