Although Justice Goldberg served only three terms on the Court, his contribution during that brief period was significant. Most important, perhaps, Goldberg’s presence on the Court finally gave Chief Justice Earl Warren a consistent and crucial fifth vote in support of the Court’s liberal bloc, consisting previously of the chief justice, Hugo Black, William O. Douglas, and William Brennan, Jr. Replacing the great advocate of judicial restraint, Felix Frankfurter, Justice Goldberg tipped the balance of power on tiie Court toward Warren and his liberal allies and secured the majority neces-sary to accomplish what would become known as the Warren court’s rights revolution. Five votes now routinely favored the claims of individual rights over competing government interests, and in short order this restructuring of the balance of power on the Court revolutionized the face of constitutional law. As secretary of labor, Goldberg had been charged with protecting the interests of American workers. As a Supreme Court justice, he perceived himself to have been given a different but related task. As Goldberg described it, “The Secretary left his post having tried, to the best of his ability, to fulfill the statutory mandate of advancing the interests of the wage earners and the industry of the country; the Justice enters on his judicial office conscious that he has been called on to do his part in the “sacred stir toward justice” and with the trembling hope “that the flame will burn bright while the torch is in [his] keeping.” Goldberg’s presence on the Court made itself felt most significantly in the area of cases involving the rights of criminal defendants. His most important opinion for the Court on this subject was Escobedo v. Illinois (1964). Escobedo had been questioned by police in connection with their investigation of his brother-in-law’s murder. Early in the interrogation, Escobedo had requested the opportunity to talk with his lawyer, who had actually come to see him in jail but had been denied the chance to talk with his client. The police dtus prevented their consultation and failed to warn Escobedo of his right to remain silent. Ultimately Escobedo made in-criminating statements to the police that were instrumental in securing his conviction for murder. Writing for a majority of the Court, Goldberg held that Escobedo’s confession under these circumstances was inadmissible because the suspect had been denied his right to counsel as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution.
Party affiliation: Democratic