The Champion

January/February 2003 , Page 12 

Search the Champion Looking for something specific?

Preview of Member Only Content

For full access: login or Become a Member Join Now

Remembering Abe Fortas and Hugo Black

By Abe Krash

The principal architects of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Gideon v.Wainwright1 were Abe Fortas, a brilliant advocate, and Hugo Black, a great jurist. Fortas, who was then a lawyer in private practice in Washington, DC, was appointed by the Supreme Court to represent Clarence Earl Gideon in connection with his appeal. He wrote the brief and presented the oral argument on Gideon’s behalf. Justice Black was the author of the Court’s opinion upholding the constitutional right to counsel of indigent persons in all state court felony prosecutions. Fortas and Black were each remarkable men, and the decision bears the imprimatur of both.  

For those two, this case was a high water mark. In his memoirs, Justice Douglas wrote that Fortas’ oral presentation in Gideon was “probably the best single legal argument” Douglas heard in his 36 years on the Court.2 

A recent biographer of Justice Black, describing the scene at the Supreme Court on March 18, 1963, when Black delivere

Want to read more?

The Champion archive is reserved for NACDL members.

NACDL members, please login to read the rest of this article.

Not a member? Join now.
Join Now
Or click here to see an overview of NACDL Member benefits.

See what NACDL members say about us.

To read the current issue of The Champion in its entirety, click here.

  • Media inquiries: Contact NACDL's Director of Public Affairs & Communications Ivan J. Dominguez at 202-465-7662 or
  • Academic Requests: Full articles of The Champion Magazine are available for academic and research purposes in the WestLaw and LexisNexis databases.

In This Section

Advertisement Advertise with Us