Earlier this week, National Review's excellent "Bench Memos" blog featured Gerard Bradley's thoughts on Justice William Brennan's "curious rise to the Supreme Court." I dare say that Bradley omits the most "curious" aspect of Brennan's appointment—namely, a case of mistaken identity that apparently led to his nomination.
Al Regnery included this account on pages 217-18 of his recent book, Upstream: The Ascendance of American Conservatism .* He writes that Attorney General Herbert Brownwell, desperate to find an alternative to Robert Taft-supporter Judge John Danaher, discovered Brennan at an ABA conference.
Witneessing Brennan's ABA speech, Brownwell concluded that he was the sort of "judicial conservative" that they wanted, and "hurried back to the White House to tell Eisenhower that he had found the perfect candidate: the fact that Brennan was a Democrat only made him more appealing, as Ike wanted to demonstrate that his administration was bipartisan."
So Brennan was offered the job. And then:
... Eisenhower got a call from his old friend Arthur Vanderbilt, chief judge of the New Jersey Supreme Court, a Republican, who wanted to know why Ike was appointing a liberal Democrat to the high court. No liberal, Ike replied, and referred Vandenberg [ sic ] to the speech Brennan had delivered before the ABA. After a long pause, Vanderbilt told Eisenhower that Brennan had not written the speech, he had; Vanderbilt had sent Brennan to deliver it in his place, as he had laryngitis.
Whoops. I dare say that such mix-ups wouldn't occur today. Long gone are the days when a Brennan or Holmes or Souter can get that job without a thorough ideological background check by the president's men.
Unfortunately, Regnery cites a secondary source (
magazine) for this story, so I can't say for certain that this story isn't too good to be true.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore
And schools are getting worried.
Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War
Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough
So they added a little self-immolation.
Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem
Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology.