Statement by the President Upon Declining To Submit an Additional Nomination for the Office of Chief Justice of the United States.
I HAVE SAID that I do not believe that I can find a person who is better qualified to succeed Chief Justice Warren in the Nation's highest judicial post than Mr. Justice Fortas.
I deeply regret that the Senate filibuster prevented the Senate from voting on the nomination of Justice Fortas. Had the Senate been permitted to vote, I am confident that both Justice Fortas and Judge Thornberry would have been confirmed. Their qualifications are indisputable.
In ordinary times I would feel it my duty now to send another name to the Senate for this high office. I shall not do so.
These are not ordinary times. We are threatened by an emotionalism, partisanship, and prejudice that compel us to use great care if we are to avoid injury to our constitutional system.
Our distinguished Chief Justice has indicated his willingness to serve until his successor qualifies. Under the circumstances, the foundations of government would be better served by the present Chief Justice remaining until emotionalism subsides, reason and fairness prevail.
Note: Judge Homer Thornberry of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had been nominated to replace Abe Fortas as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. For a statement by the President withdrawing the nomination of Justice Fortas as Chief Justice of the United States, see Item 509.
Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Declining To Submit an Additional Nomination for the Office of Chief Justice of the United States. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/237227