Arthur Joseph Goldberg, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

  • Born: Aug. 8, 1908; Chicago, Ill. 
  • Educated: Northwestern University, Bachelor of Science in Law, 1929; JD, 1930 
  • Married: July 18, 1931, Dorothy Kurgans 
  • Nominated: Aug. 29, 1962, by President John F. Kennedy 
  • Commissioned: Sept. 25, 1962 
  • Dates of Service: Oct. 1, 1962 to July 25, 1965 
  • Died: Jan. 19, 1990

Arthur Joseph Goldberg, the youngest of eight children, was born in the west side of Chicago to Russian immigrant parents, Joseph and Rebecca Perlstein Goldberg. Goldberg's father was a peddler, delivering produce by horse-drawn wagon until his death in 1916. After his death, the older children were forced to quit school and go to work to support the family. As the youngest, Arthur Goldberg was able to continue his education.

By the age of 12, he was working at odd jobs, such as wrapping fish, selling shoes, and selling coffee to Cub fans at Wrigley Field during the prohibition years. His interest in legal matters was set before he graduated from high school, prompted by the well-publicized 1923 murder trial of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb.

In 1926, he began his study of law at the Northwestern University School of Law. He received a Bachelor of Science in Law from Northwestern, magna cum laude, at age 19 in 1929. In 1930, Northwestern awarded him the JD (Juris Doctor) degree.

On July 18, 1931, Goldberg married Dorothy Kurgans, an art student at Northwestern University. They had two children: Barbara in 1936, and Robert in 1941.

Goldberg began his legal career in 1929 as an associate in the firm of Kamfner, Horowitz, Halligan, and Daniels, but resigned when he was assigned to foreclose mortgages on other people's property. As he saw the Great Depression taking its toll on the working American, Goldberg's interest in labor law increased. He opened his own law practice under the name of Arthur J. Goldberg in 1933.

In 1938, on behalf of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, Goldberg represented the Chicago newspaper employees striking for higher wages and better working conditions. For eight months, Goldberg represented the strikers without charge, spending many days in court defending arrested picketers. In the end, the newspapers recognized the union, and Goldberg was considered a workingman's hero.

During World War II, Goldberg served as a captain and major in the U.S. Army. In 1948 he was appointed general counsel for the CIO and the United Steelworkers of America. Later, he participated in and was a legal advisor on the merger of American Federation of Labor and the CIO in 1955.