Snapshot in Time: Justice Frankfurter’s Nomination Hearing

Posted By on July 21, 2010

In early January 1939, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard public testimony about the nomination of Dr. Felix Frankfurter to the Supreme Court.  This Hearing is notable because it was one of the first times a Supreme Court nominee publicly testified on his own behalf before the Committee.

Dr. Frankfurter was a controversial appointment.  He served on the defense team for the Sacco and Vanzetti and was on the public record as having opposed the verdict in that case.  Frankfurter supported New Deal legislation and programs.  Frankfurter also worked with the A.C.L.U.  At the time, the A.C.L.U. was believed by many to be a communist front organization.  The witnesses who testified at the Hearing were concerned that Frankfurter’s appointment to the Court was another subversive step by F.D.R. to transform the country into a socialist nation.  Many raised charges that Frankfurter was a communist or an anarchist in disguise.

Nomination of Felix Frankfurter: Hearings Before a Subcomm. of the Comm. on the Judiciary, 76 Cong. (Jan. 11 and 12, 1939).

The Hearing is accessible through Lexis Congressional; just use “Frankfurter” in the search terms box, then scroll down and restrict your search to the 76th Congress, and then click on search.

Content Advisory: This Hearing is a product of its times and does contain racist and offensive language.  The library and its staff do not endorse or support the views contained within.


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