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In 1969 Abe Fortas Became the First Justice Forced to Resign. Should Clarence Thomas Be Next?

Written by on 19/04/2023

As pressure grows on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign over his decades-long relationship with a billionaire benefactor, we speak with legal journalist Adam Cohen, who says there is a precedent that should guide lawmakers in how to address the growing scandal. In 1969, Justice Abe Fortas was forced to resign after his financial relationship came to light with businessman Louis Wolfson, who paid Fortas to consult for his foundation. Fortas was a Democratic appointee, but the scandal led to a bipartisan call for his resignation — even though his replacement would be named by Republican President Richard Nixon and shift the balance of the court. Cohen writes in a guest essay for The New York Times that the strong, bipartisan outrage against Fortas “is both a blueprint for how lawmakers could respond today and a benchmark of how far we have fallen.”

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