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Nominated to replace Earl Warren as chief justice in 1968, Abe Fortas became the first nominee for that post since 1795 to fail to win Senate approval.
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Fortas withdrew himself from consideration for the chief justice post, which was eventually filled by Warren E. Burger. He stayed on at the court as an associate justice, but he soon faced another controversy.
Fortas was later discovered to have accepted a dubious position from the Wolfson Foundation. In exchange for $20,000 per year for life, he was to provide counsel to the foundation,
which was run by the family of Wall Street financial giant Louis Wolfson. After Wolfson was indicted on charges of securities violations, Fortas returned the one payment he received from the foundation. But this secret deal severely damaged Fortas's reputation and credibility. Under tremendous public pressure, he resigned from the court in May 1969.
After resigning from the Supreme Court, Abe Fortas returned to private practice. He remained in Washington, D.C., for the remainder of his career, dying there on April 5, 1982, at the age of 71. He was survived by his wife, Carolyn Agger, a successful lawyer in her own right. The couple never had children.
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