Growing up in Chicago
Arthur Goldberg was born on August 8, 1908 to Ukrainian Jewish immigrants to the US. The Goldbergs lived on the west side of Chicago. Arthur Goldberg was the 11th of 11 children, and grew up in relative poverty. His father died when he was 51, and Goldberg started working immediately after that, to help support his family. Against all odds, he successfully made it through Northwestern Law School, graduating at the top of his class in 1929. He worked for a bit at a law firm in Chicago, but quit when he was required to foreclose mortgages on people’s homes. He opened his own office and took on social justice issues, such as wrongly arrested picketers, and the like. He preferred compromise and above all else worked towards reaching an agreeable solution between two parties.
Goldberg as Supreme Court justice
In 1961, President Kennedy appointed Goldberg to the US Secretary of Labor. The following year, he replaced Felix Frankfurter, associate justice of the Supreme Court. One of his most famous opinions was told through the verdict in Griswold v. Connecticut, which stated that the 9th amendment to the Constitution supports the “unenumerated right of privacy.” He also wrote Escobedo, which stated that a suspect has the constitutional right to an attorney present during questioning. Generally speaking, Goldberg became known as the “5th liberal vote” in the Warren Court.
Goldberg as Ambassador to the United Nations
In 1965, Lyndon B Johnson talked Goldberg into resigning from Supreme Court and taking over Adelai Stevenson’s position as Ambassador to the United Nations. His main goal was to maintain peace in Vietnam. Goldberg believed that in Vietnam, the US was “fighting the wrong war in the wrong place.” Goldberg also played a primary role in drafting Resolution 242, which followed the Six-Day War between the Arab states and Israel. The resolution primarily stated that Israel was not obligated to pull out its forces from the captured territories.
Resignation from the UN
Goldberg resigned from the position of UN ambassador in 1968 and went back to practicing law with a firm in New York: Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. After all chances of his appointment to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court were denied, Goldberg considered running for an elected office, namely either a Senate seat or Governor of New York. He decided to run for governor, and lost to Nelson Rockefeller in 1970. He returned to his law practice, and served as President of the American Jewish Committee.
Goldberg was respected because he had been successful through many walks of life. He had a humble beginning but was able to make his way through school, obtaining an education, and become a nationally respected political public figure.
Here, we have an exclusive interview with Goldberg where he describes what it was like to serve on President Kennedy’s Cabinet as Secretary of Labor.