The President's News Conference
RESIGNATION OF CHIEF JUSTICE
THE PRESIDENT. [1.] On June 13th I received letters from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court which read as follows:
"Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C., section 371(b), I hereby advise you of my intention to retire as Chief Justice of the United States effective at your pleasure.
"My dear Mr. President:
"In connection with my retirement letter of today, I desire to state my reason for doing so at this time.
"I want you to know that it is not because of reasons of health or on account of any personal or associational problems, but solely because of age. I have been advised that I am in as good physical condition as a person of my age has any right to expect. My associations on the Court have been cordial and satisfying in every respect, and I have enjoyed each day of the fifteen years I have been here.
"The problem of age, however, is one that no man can combat and, therefore, eventually must bow to it. I have been continuously in the public service for more than fifty years. When I entered the public service, 150 million of our 200 million people were not yet born. I, therefore, conceive it to be my duty to give way to someone who will have more years ahead of him to cope with the problems which will come to the Court.
"I believe there are few people who have enjoyed serving the public or who are more grateful for the opportunity to have done so than I. I take leave of the Court with the warmest of feelings for every member on it and for the institution which we have jointly served in the years I have been privileged to be part of it.
"With my very best wishes for your continued good health and happiness, I am
I responded to that letter today, June 26th, as follows:
"My dear Mr. Chief Justice:
"It is with the deepest regret that I learn of your desire to retire, knowing how much the Nation has benefited from your service as Chief Justice. However, in deference to your wishes, I will seek a replacement to fill the vacancy in the office of Chief Justice that will be occasioned when you depart. With your agreement, I will accept your decision to retire effective at such time as a successor is qualified.
"You have won for yourself the esteem of your fellow citizens. You have served your Nation with exceptional distinction and deserve the Nation's gratitude.
"Under your leadership, the Supreme Court of the United States has once again demonstrated the vitality of this Nation's institutions and their capacity to meet with vigor and strength the challenge of changing times. The Court has acted to achieve justice, fairness, and equality before the law for all people.
"Your wisdom and strength will inspire generations of Americans for many decades to come.
"Fortunately, retirement does not mean that you will withdraw from service to your Nation and to the institutions of the law. I am sure that you will continue, although retired from active service as Chief Justice, to respond to the calls which will be made upon you to furnish continued inspiration and guidance to the development of the rule of law both internationally and in our own Nation. Nothing is more important than this work which you undertook so willingly and have so well advanced.
"LYNDON B. JOHNSON"
NOMINATION OF NEW CHIEF JUSTICE AND ASSOCIATE JUSTICE
[2.] I have the nomination for the Chief Justice. The nomination will go to the Senate shortly. It is Justice Abe Fortas of the State of Tennessee. His background will be available to you as prepared by the Justice Department.
To the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, when Mr. Fortas is elevated, I am nominating Judge Thornberry, presently on the fifth circuit. Also he is a former Federal district judge, and his home is in Austin, Texas. I think most of you know him.
I will sign those nominations momentarily. They will be at the Senate when the Senate opens today.
SUPREME COURT APPOINTMENTS
Q. Judge Thornberry's first name?
THE PRESIDENT. Homer.
Q. Sir, have you decided whom you are going to name to take Mr. Thornberry's place on the fifth circuit?
THE PRESIDENT. No.
Q. Mr. President, do you anticipate any trouble in having the Senate ratify these?
THE PRESIDENT. I would suspect that they would review their records very carefully. I believe when they do, that they will meet with the approval of the Senate.
Q. Did you discuss this with Senator Eastland 1 or anybody else on the Judiciary Committee?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I have discussed it with the leadership, with several Members of the Senate, the Democratic leadership and the Republican leadership, and the leadership of the committee.
1 Senator James O. Eastland of Mississippi, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
[3.] Q. Mr. President, do you judge the temper of Congress now to be such that you might expect to get any, if not all, or most of the restrictions that you have proposed in the gun legislation yesterday?
THE PRESIDENT. I would hope that we could. I am not able to predict. This is the first day they are taking testimony in the Senate. I haven't followed that this morning. I understand that the Attorney General, Mr. Glenn, and others were appearing, along with Mayor Lindsay.2 But I don't have an up-to-date report on that testimony or what action they will take.
2Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Col. John H. Glenn, Jr., former astronaut and leader of a nationwide write-in campaign organized by the Emergency Committee for Gun Control, and Mayor John V. Lindsay of New York City.
Q. Mr. President, Monday I think you recommended that other mayors follow the example of Mayor Alioto 3 on a set of programs to try to encourage people to turn in guns. I know that you happen to have some guns down at the ranch. I was wondering by any chance if you are thinking of turning in some of your guns?
THE PRESIDENT. If we have any that would meet that qualification, we would be glad to do it.
3 Mayor Joseph Alioto of San Francisco.
NORTH VIETNAMESE ACTION
[4.] Q. Mr. President, there are reports that the North Vietnamese are infiltrating at a larger rate into the South. Would you comment on that and comment on the ground situation, as well as reports that some offensive on their part is expected?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think I would want to comment on that now.
AMBASSADOR HARRIMAN'S REVIEW OF THE PARIS TALKS
[5.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us anything about your talks with Ambassador Harriman? 4
THE PRESIDENT. The Ambassador reviewed with me the situation as he saw it. He brought me up to date on the exchanges and gave me his evaluations. I don't think there is a great deal that he said to me that he hasn't said in meeting the press following these various meetings. We discussed some of the thoughts he had in mind and certain ideas that he had, and reviewed them. We exchanged views.
4W. Averell Harriman, Ambassador at Large and U.S. Representative to the Paris peace talks with North Vietnam.
COMMUNIST PRESSURE ON WEST BERLIN
[6.] Q. Mr. President, what do you think are the reasons for the intensified Communist pressure on West Berlin at this time?
THE PRESIDENT. I am not able to evaluate the reasons for the Communist action.
POOR PEOPLE'S CAMPAIGN
[7.] Q. Mr. President, the Resurrection City encampment has now been ended and some of its leaders are embarking on the strategy of civil disobedience and the rest are wanting to be arrested. Do you think any good purpose can be served by this kind of behavior?
THE PRESIDENT. I made a rather lengthy statement at my press conference before the march.5 There is not much I can add to that. I think that everyone in Washington in a position to serve the people of this country is going to do everything he can to aid the poor.
5See Item 223 .
I have pending between $70 billion and $80 billion worth of programs that are regarded as social programs.
We are doing everything we can to get those programs funded by the Appropriations Committee. I would hope that anyone who is concerned with the poor would make appropriate representations and certainly express their viewpoints, but not do it in such a way that finds them conflicting with the law of the land.
UNITED STATES-SOVIET RELATIONS
[8.] Q. Mr. President, you directed yourself to relations with the Soviet Union three times recently--Glassboro and twice subsequently. Is there anything you would like to add to that; possibly evaluate the relationship?
THE PRESIDENT. No.
[9.] Q. Mr. President, in connection with the poor, would you like to see the House restore the funds cut by the Appropriations Committee for education in the antipoverty program?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. We have made our recommendations to the committee during the consideration of the bill. And we have done so since they have acted.
SENATOR MC CARTHY AND THE PARIS TALKS
[10.] Q. Mr. President, Senator McCarthy 6 has said he may go over to Paris to find out more about the peace talks and perhaps talk to the representatives of Hanoi. Do you have any comment on that?
THE PRESIDENT. No.
6 Senator Eugene J. McCarthy of Minnesota, candidate for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination.
PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU
[11.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any plans to meet Prime Minister Trudeau? 7
THE PRESIDENT. I have no plans, no.
7 Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau of Canada.
SIGNING OF THE TAX BILL
[12.] Q. Mr. President, can you give us any indication when you might sign the tax bill? 8
THE PRESIDENT. I would think shortly, in the next day or two. I think that all of you are familiar with the problems we have with these bills. Under the Constitution, the President has 10 days to act.
8 See Item 343.
When these bills are messaged down, they go to a central point in the executive branch of the Government. They don't come to the President's desk. He, in turn, circulates the measures for examination to all the other departments concerned.
Depending on how much new material is in it and how familiar they are with the various sections, the groups meet and analyze and evaluate and make their recommendations. That is true on every piece of general legislation.
Some of them can make evaluations quicker than others. It is easier if the bill that you submit is passed as you submitted it, because you have already considered it. But if they change it as they do in most bills, you have to go back and have all that reviewed and see how it affects the expenditures and the policies of the Government.
I am not sure just when this examination process will be completed. As soon as it is, and I can read their comments, I will be prepared to act.
MEETING WITH PRESIDENT THIEU
[13.] Q. Mr. President, do you expect to meet soon with President Thieu of South Vietnam?
THE PRESIDENT. I am not sure just when that meeting will take place. I don't have a date on it now.
POSSIBILITY OF SUMMIT MEETING OR TRIP TO SOVIET UNION
[14.] Q. Mr. President, we keep getting these reports or rumors from abroad that a summit meeting between yourself and Mr. Kosygin 9 may be forthcoming soon, or before January 20 of next year.
9 Premier Aleksei N. Kosygin of the Soviet Union.
Is there anything in the works for a summit meeting or a trip to the Soviet Union by yourself?
THE PRESIDENT. I know of no basis for those rumors. I have no plans for it.
POSSIBILITY OF LATIN AMERICAN TRIP
[15.] Q. As long as we are on the subject of possible travel, Mr. President, there are also recurring rumors or reports that you might go to Latin America at about the time you go down to the Hemis-Fair celebration.
Can you pin those down for us one way or the other?
THE PRESIDENT. When I can, I will.
I wouldn't deal in rumors very much though, if I were you. George 10 will always make this available to you just the first moment he can.
10George E. Christian, Special Assistant to the President.
As a matter of fact, before I could sign these nominations that came over from the Justice Department, we called you in.
I am going to proceed to sign them so we can get them up there before 12 o'clock.
Douglas Cornell, Associated Press: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Johnson's one hundred and twentyeighth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 11:38 a.m. on Wednesday, June 26, 1968.
Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/236922