Although he served on the Supreme Court for only three terms, Goldberg provided an articulate and highly influential voice on individual liberties, labor issues, and social justice. He was a key player in several significant decisions by Earl Warren’s court, especially those that expanded constitutional rights.
The eleventh and last child of immigrant Russian Jews, Goldberg
Despite his outstanding academic record and obvious intelligence, Goldberg was not offered a position with any of the more prestigious Chicago law firms because of anti-Semitic prejudice. He began work with a firm that specialized in property law, including foreclosure on mortgages. Goldberg, who knew firsthand the devastation that the Great Depression was causing, detested the work, and in 1933 he left to form his own law office, specializing in labor law cases.
Goldberg soon had established what would be a long and close association with organized labor in the United States. In 1938 and 1939 Goldberg was lead counsel for the Newspaper Guild in its bitter battle against the two Chicago newspapers owned and run by William Randolph Hearst. The strike finally ended in May, 1940, but soon after, the Hearst papers closed. However, Goldberg had established his credentials with organized labor
During the years before World War II (1941-1945), Goldberg took a more active role in civic affairs, for example, joining the Chicago chapter of the White Committee, a group formed by liberal Republican newspaper editor William Allen White to support aid to Great Britain and the other powers fighting Nazi Germany. As member of the White Committee, Goldberg came to know Adlai Stevenson, then a rising star in the Democratic Party.
When World War II began, Goldberg enlisted and served in the Office of Strategic Services, where he helped organize and supply French labor unions in their efforts to resist Nazi occupation of their country.
As a justice, Goldberg quickly showed himself a champion of individual liberties and civil rights. A strong supporter of nonenumerated rights (those not specifically named but clearly implied in the U.S. Constitution), Goldberg sought to expand these rights even further, especially those associated with the Ninth Amendment. A dependable ally of Chief Justice Earl Warren, Goldberg helped lead the Court to take a decisive stand in a number of major cases, three of them in particular with lasting constitutional impact.
In Gideon v. Wainwright
In August, 1965, at the urging of President Lyndon B. Johnson,
In 1970 Goldberg narrowly won the Democratic primary nomination for governor of New York. However, the campaign was a difficult one, and Goldberg was decisively defeated by Republican Nelson A. Rockefeller, who won his fourth term in the November election. Leaving partisan politics, Goldberg remained active in public life and in 1977 and 1978 served as ambassador at large for President Jimmy Carter
Bader, William H., and Roy M. Mersky, eds. The First One Hundred Eight Justices. Buffalo, N.Y.: William S. Hein, 2004. Cushman, Clare, ed. The Supreme Court Justices: Illustrated Biographies. 2d ed. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1995. Stebenne, David. Arthur J. Goldberg: New Deal Liberal. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Urofsky, Melvin I. The Warren Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2001.
Barker v. Wingo
Birth control and contraception
Counsel, right to
Escobedo v. Illinois
Gideon v. Wainwright
Griswold v. Connecticut