Abraham Fortas (June 19, 1910 – April 5, 1982) was an American lawyer and jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1965 to 1969.
A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Fortas became a law professor at Yale University, and then an advisor for the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission.
Fortas worked at the Department of the Interior under President Franklin D.
Roosevelt, and during that time President Harry S.
Truman appointed him to delegations that helped set up the United Nations in 1945.
In 1948 Fortas represented Lyndon Johnson in the hotly contested Democratic Senatorial Second Primary electoral dispute, and he formed close ties with the president-to-be.
Fortas also represented Clarence Earl Gideon before the U.S.
Supreme Court, in a landmark case involving the right to counsel.
Nominated by Johnson to the Supreme Court in 1965, Fortas was confirmed by the Senate, and maintained a close working relationship with the president.
In 1968, Johnson tried to elevate Fortas to the position of Chief Justice, but that nomination faced a filibuster at least in part due to ethics problems that later caused Fortas to resign from the Court.
Fortas returned to private practice, sometimes appearing before the justices with whom he had served.