GILSON: Well, Mr. Zimmerman, first of all could you tell me a little
bit about yourself: how you came to be a clerk, where you went to
school, and so forth?
ZIMMERMAN: I went to the Columbia Law School and was in those post-war
classes after World War II, was graduated from the law school in June
of 1949, and became a law clerk then for a United States District Court
judge in New York by the name of Simeon H. Rifkand, R-I-F-K-A-N-D, who
was regarded as an outstanding judge. He thereafter went back into the
00:01:00private practice of law. While I was a Rifkand law clerk, I indicated
my interest in being a Supreme Court law clerk as, indeed, every law
student would. And the law school, I think, maybe Noel Dowling, maybe
someone else at the Columbia Law School, did have a relationship with
Justice [Stanley] Reed where they occasionally would serve up names to
him. And to my surprise and pleasure, I received a letter on February
4, 1950, asking me to be his clerk.
GILSON: It was just a . . . can I take a look at that?
ZIMMERMAN: Came pretty much out of the blue since I had not met him.
GILSON: Umhmm. That was quite a salary.
ZIMMERMAN: Well, $5,610, that was . . . I was then getting $3600,
00:02:00and I thought . . . as a [chuckle--Gilson] district judge's clerk,
I thought that was a magnificent salary. Indeed, I lived very well on
it in Washington in that year. So I became a Reed law clerk in the .
. . around August or September of 1950, and left the end of July or
early August of `51.
GILSON: Umhmm. What . . . what were your first impressions of
Stanley Reed, when I . . . I suppose that him being on the Court
while you were in still . . . still in law school, you had some
idea of . . . of . . . of the way he . . . the way he . . .
known whatever. [chuckle] I'm trying to say, do you . . . did you
00:03:00have any preconceived ideas about Stanley Reed?
ZIMMERMAN: No. I don't think that he represented to me and, I guess,
to most of the people at law school any very precise figure as a leader
of the liberal cause or the conservative cause or . . . I think, my
guess is that he was regarded as a confident, less well-known justice,
certainly less well known than [Felix] Frankfurter at the time, or
[Hugo] Black or [William O.] Douglas or probably even [Robert] Jackson.
But he was respected. In other words, it wasn't regarded as a .
. . he wasn't regarded as a weak justice. He was . . . he was
GILSON: So when you first met him, how did you [chuckle--Zimmerman] . .
00:04:00. how . . . how did you react? That's a . . .
ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. I . . . probably with fear and trepidation, but
not because he was a . . . he was a . . . an extremely gentle
and humorous man. But the quarters themselves were so awe-inspiring,
and the privilege of being down at the Court was so remarkable that,
of course, one . . . one quivered. But one had the impression of
somebody who worked quite hard and expected you to work quite hard. A
GILSON: Okay. This is just really for the record. What did you . . .
what did you do as a . . . as a clerk throughout your term?
ZIMMERMAN: Well, I think a . . . and, of course, it's now over
thirty years, so memory plays tricks, but my recollection is that a
00:05:00basic function was, of course, to write the cert memos, and in looking
through these files that I resurrected this morning, I find an enormous
volume of . . . of cert memos which we all wrote for the . . .
I guess, the conference in those days on certs was Saturday morning.
And we would be particularly busy Friday afternoon trying to finish
up the stuff that had to be finished up for the justice to read, or
maybe we had to get it in to him in time for him to read it on Friday.
But . . . now, this is the kind of stuff . . . I'm . . . I'm
showing you these single-spaced typed memos which . . . really in
the hundreds of pages. So an important function . . . there were
two of us . . . two clerks and a . . . he relied heavily on us to
00:06:00summarize the cert petitions. He would make his own judgments, though.
He would go over them very carefully and, I think, essentially use
our memos as a way of getting into the facts more quickly. In addition
to that . . . in addition to the cert work, we would help him on
particular opinions. And some opinions he would ask us to do a draft
on, and sometimes he would do a draft and ask us to revise or comment.
Mutual ways of mutual work. But ultimately, he was clearly in control
of . . . he never truly delegated his judicial function to his law
clerks. He used us, but he was very much in control, even though he
00:07:00always knew that the clerks were always conspiring to influence the
justice and to . . . to write the opinions. And he was very aware
of that, and his eyes would twinkle and so forth. But I suppose that
the work on certs and the work on drafting opinions constituted most
of the work. And then there were also the special fires that came up
which had to be put out. And that's about it.
GILSON: Okay. Well, [Gilson looking at prepared questions] you kind of
did that. What bits of interest do you have over there that are . . .
ZIMMERMAN: Well, I have . . . they're sort of Stanley Reed stories
that I . . . several have stayed in my memory, and then in going
through these notes, there are several that . . . contemporaneous
00:08:00notes I made to myself, which I haven't looked at for thirty years.
This . . . the . . . I think they give you some depiction of the
style of the man and his wry humor--humor which had elements of self-
awareness and of self-deprecation, but also of an ability to deprecate
others as well. The stories . . . a lot of the stories have to
do with Felix Frankfurter because, as you know, there was an odd
relationship. I think Frankfurter felt that Stanley Reed was an apt
pupil, and Frankfurter, at least during our time, was forever trying
to seduce Reed's law clerks in the expectation that they would help
00:09:00seduce Stanley Reed. And Frankfurter's efforts in that direction were
transparent, and Reed had a good time in . . . in watching them. I
don't know whether you've heard these stories from other . . . other
clerks about that strange relationship. But let me give you a couple
of stories since you're . . .
ZIMMERMAN: . . . you're recording this. Once, Reed was in the
clerk's room, I think Adam [Yarmolinsky] and I were both there, and
Frankfurter came in on some case or other and really lectured the
justice. And Frankfurter never realized how patronizing he was. And
Stanley Reed just sat there quietly, nodding his head very politely,
and Frankfurter was satisfied with himself and wheeled out, going out
00:10:00like a little bird--you know, he walked that way. And Reed turned to
us and said, "What a wonderful disposition. What a marvelous analysis.
What a brilliant mind. Don't you envy that capability? If only he had
some common sense!" [laughter--Gilson] Th- . . . it was that kind of
thing. In other words, he wasn't about to change his mind. [chuckle-
-Gilson] He wasn't taken in one bit, and so forth. And that was very
typical of the relationship, where Frankfurter was absolutely obtuse
about the fact that he was dealing with a rather canny intellect, and
there was that kind of thing. Another observation--and this may not
00:11:00have to do with Frankfurter; it may have had to do with Black or some
other justice. The issue was abuse of police power and so forth,
and Reed was saying of the other justice, "Well, his trouble was that
maybe he . . . he was brought up in a place where people feared
the police." He said, "Now me, why, when I was a little boy I had long
blonde curls, and I had a pet pony, and I used to get all dressed up,
you know, in my finest clothes." I don't know whether he said he had
velvet clothes, but I . . . I . . . maybe I'm interposing that.
"And with my long blonde curls, and people would pick on me, the other
boys would pick on me, and it was the police that helped me out. So I
don't see the police as enemies," and that kind of thing. And he said
it all with a twinkle in his eye, again. Those are stories which I
00:12:00think illustrate his own gentle mocking of himself, mocking of others,
his own awareness of how one's predilections are rooted in one's
personal history. And he enjoyed having what he called "libertarian"
or "liberal" clerks because he liked to react against them or have them
react against him. And I think he has been known to say of one law
clerk who was very conservative, as judged by the standards of the time
by a fellow law clerk, he said ruefully, "My goodness, if he's this
conservative now, what is he going to be like thirty years from now,"
that kind of thing. I . . . in going through these notes, if you
have time I can just . . .
GILSON: I have.
ZIMMERMAN: . . . this is as much as you're going to get by way of
con- . . . contemporary [chuckling] history. I have a note here
00:13:00of Reed imitating Black . . . Justice Black. And I don't know what
the occasion was, but in our presence he came out in a Southern drawl
saying, "These prisoners are not being accorded there basic rights."
And he loved that. He liked Black, by the way, and they had a very
friendly relationship. A comment by Reed on Frankfurter, "He knows
so much he antagonizes, but he is good." Then a rather wry comment on
a conversation that Frankfurter had with Douglas to the effect that
"The brains of the Court are going with me, Stanley Reed." That is
to say [Sherman] Minton, [Fred M.] Vinson, and [Harold] Burton, and
that, again, is a kind of a witty remark as to who the brains of the
00:14:00Court were, and so forth. He would . . . he once said, "Here is
an opinion written by my favorite justice," referring to an earlier
opinion by Justice Reed. Oh, some sadness when complaining of the fact
that the lower court did not understand the directions of his opinion.
Here's a note on Felix Frankfurter and the Indians. "Frankfurter
has no feel for it. He knows nothing of American history. He'll give
the country back to the Indians." I guess, again, said rather whims-
. . . whimsically. Comment on Justice Black: "Black thinks that
interests . . . having an interest is evil. He will always vote
against an interest." Then a note on the glee with which Justice Reed
00:15:00told us, that Douglas on the bench turned around and whispered to
Reed, "On civil rights cases, you are incorrigible." And Reed was very
proud of . . . of [chuckling] that remark. A comment by Black in
late April, 1952. I guess this was a year after my clerkship when I
visited Justice Black, whom I also knew quite well. He said, "Stanley
is getting things his way. His old dissents are now becoming the
opinions of the Court. I think the world will go to hell with his way,
00:16:00he thinks vice a versa. Looks like we'll now see what will happen his
way." That was Hugo Black. And indeed, of course, Reed with the . .
. in the early `50s, he did become sort of the . . . the . . .
the leader of the majority for awhile, at least in some respects. I
noted that I received a letter from him in July, `51, as I was leaving
where he twitted again . . . he said rather . . . inserted in the
letter the fact that he's had several good rows with his libertarian
friends. Reed commenting on an earlier justice, "The most saintly man
that ever lived. He never did an immoral thing, nor was he ever guilty
of a sensible act." I don't know whether he was quoting someone else.
00:17:00That sounds almost like an aphorism.
GILSON: Umhmm. Yes, it does.
ZIMMERMAN: Here . . . Reed, of course, was always terribly proud of
. . . terribly interested in words, and as you know, the law clerks
later bought him a complete set of the Oxford English Dictionary. But
he was always very concerned about his intellectual background. I
think he always expressed some regret that he wasted, as he put it,
"ten or twelve years as a small-town lawyer" instead of . . . of
course, this is a man who had been at Yale and the Sorbonne. He was
actually quite a sophisticated, cosmopolitan man, but he . . . he
tended to put himself in the position of not really being as well-
equipped as a Felix Frankfurter. But . . . but the other aspect
of that is he loved to find rare words and new words, and here he was
00:18:00crowing over a new word called "precisiveness." He said it was a little
rare. It was last used in 1679 [chuckle--Gilson] and he coined the "-
ness" part of it, and he said, "Felix will send out a special deputation
to get it changed, but we'll say he doesn't know the English language."
Another Reed story; this was after we worked on the Kristensen versus
McGrath [McGrath v. Kristensen] opinion, which . . . I remember
his telling me that the chief justice was very pleased with it, but I
have a little note here at the time, saying Reed's classic remark late
at night while completing Kristensen. The remark is, "After I finish
writing this,"--this was the majority opinion--"I will join in Douglas'
dissent." Which I . . . shows again, [laughter--Gilson]. . .
GILSON: Those are interesting. Tho- . . . those are . . . of
00:19:00course, those are rarities. You'll never . . .
ZIMMERMAN: Well, that's the kind of little detail that if you don't
write it down at the time, you'll never . . .
ZIMMERMAN: . . . reconstruct it.
ZIMMERMAN: Never reconstruct it. There are a couple of other things--
one, I think, gets that sort of [inaudible]. He had a nice relationship
with his secretary [Helen Gaylord] and with his . . . with [Gerald
D.] Ross, who was his, I guess, bailiff or general helper. And here
is a note which shows that . . . this is just before Christmas,
1950, December 18. "Reed departing from the office a few days before
Christmas complaining bitterly about the price of the Christmas cards
that Helen Gaylord bought for him. They were five cents a card. He
muttered, 'I'll go home now while I'm angry and write these cards
and save money.'" Meaner . . . meaning that he was in a bad mood
00:20:00and wouldn't send out many. "Ross shouts out down the hall to Miss
Gaylord, who is with Justice Reed, 'Miss Gaylord, have you ever heard
of Scrooge?'" And there was that kind of respectful but nice intimacy
between . . . among the three of them. He was a very fussy worker.
He . . . he worked hard. He spent long hours at it. Was not as
gifted as some, but gifted enough to get the job done. Would usually
have his books littering the floor while he was in the middle of an
opinion; I'm sure you've heard about this. And he would be irate when
anyone would disturb those books, which he claimed were all carefully
00:21:00ordered. A very gentle man. I've never heard of anyone in all the
years, before or since, who spoke of him harshly as a man. He didn't
. . . he had an incredible career when you consider all the jobs
he held, and apparently he did it without abrading any feelings. Now,
maybe you've encountered some, but I haven't. If you . . . you'll
find people who are critical of his abilities or whether he stood for
the right things or whether he was a first . . . a justice of the
first magnitude. But it's remarkable for a person to go through public
life and hold so many responsible positions without making enemies. I
don't think he ever made an enemy.
GILSON: I haven't found one.
ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. I don't think he had. I mean, he really was a genius
in terms of personal relations. Nor did he feud on anyone with the
Court. There was . . . he was genial and laughing. He was on good
00:22:00terms with Douglas, with Black, with Frankfurter, the . . . and
that . . . that's the Court that was severely divided with lots of
intense emotion. And he was in some ways above it.
GILSON: Let's talk . . . let's talk a little more about the Court if
we . . . if we can. Vinson was chief justice, another Kentuckian,
somebody who . . . well, with . . . who more or less had . . .
had gotten the chief justiceship through his relationship with [Harry
GILSON: Not openly, I'm sure, but perhaps in the background. Would
there have been any . . . but would Stanley Reed have been, perhaps,
even mildly put out about that?
ZIMMERMAN: No, I don't think so. I never heard of it if he were. I
think Reed regarded himself as so fortunate and lucky to be on the
Court, I . . . I never . . . I never heard him reminisce or
suggest any rueful thoughts about the fact that he wasn't named to be
the chief justice. He's always regarded himself as . . . always
regarded himself as terribly, terribly fortunate. And, indeed, in many
ways he was.
GILSON: He was. Yeah.
ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. But I never . . . there was never a scintilla of
that to my recollection. Now, maybe somebody else has encountered
that. I never encountered that. The Court at the time, as I recall,
was not a powerful Court. At least the . . . you had with Vinson,
00:24:00Minton, Burton, Reed, . . . let's see, Jackson, Black, Douglas,
Frankfurter and . . . I've left out somebody.
GILSON: [Thomas C.] Clark.
ZIMMERMAN: Clark. Yeah. And quite often . . . there started to
develop around that time a . . . a group of . . . at that time,
strange to say, in . . . on a number of issues it was Reed as, in a
sense, the intellectual leader of a majority of five, and those being
Vinson, Burton, Clark, Reed and Minton. And it's odd to think of
Frankfurter and Douglas and Black and Jackson together, but on several
issues that term it seems to me they were. Of course, the savage
00:25:00relationship between Douglas and Frankfurter, I guess, evidenced itself
soon enough. But . . . but Vin-. . . that was a good year for
Reed, and subsequent years, that was sort of, I think, the apogee of
his influence on the Court. He was . . . of that group, he was
probably . . . that group of five, he was probably the most . . .
at least as gifted as any [and] perhaps more gifted as a jurist.
GILSON: Well, what was his relationship with . . . with Vinson, both
on and off the Court? On the Court, of course, we were saying that Reed
was the . . . was the primary mover of that block of five--usually,
of course, not always. But . . .
ZIMMERMAN: I have very little in the way of specific recollections of
00:26:00seeing the two together. My . . . I have an almost inarticulate
recollection of great deference and respect being expressed by Reed
for the chief [justice]. To what extent that was a deference to the
office and to what extent that was a deference to the man, I . .
. I really don't know. We s- . . . we didn't see much of the
chief. The chief was rather regal in some senses. He limited his
appearances. And while he was very approachable, and when he met with
the law clerks he talked of baseball--I think he used to be a shortstop
at some point or other. [chuckle--Gilson] But he was not . . . he
was not available. He was not accessible, typically. And I don't have
very many recollections of seeing Reed and Vinson together. But there
was no clash [and] no conflicts that I know of. And I think on . .
00:27:00. I think I commented earlier that on McGrath versus Kristensen, I do
have a recollection of Reed rather proudly saying that, "The chief is
very pleased with our opinion," or "this opinion," etc. And he . . .
that . . . that mean . . . meant something to him.
ZIMMERMAN: But if there was anything else in that relationship, or any .
. . I . . . I don't . . . I'm not aware of it, don't remember
it, and was not aware of it at the time.
GILSON: Okay. We have another angle to work on. 1950 . . . the
October term of `50.
GILSON: There were . . . there seemed to be some cases coming before
the Court having to do with the rise of McCarthyism. Let's see, the
00:28:00Anti-Fascist Committee versus McGrath [Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee
Committee v. McGrath]. Maybe that was the Kristensen?
ZIMMERMAN: No. No, that's a different case, . . .
ZIMMERMAN: . . . I think.
GILSON: Yeah, there's Kristensen there. Okay. And . . . and just
a year or so before that, he had . . . he had testified for Alger
Hiss, giving a character witness for Alger Hiss. How did . . . how
did Reed view the . . . the . . . the . . . that era?
ZIMMERMAN: Well, all I could recall, really, was the issue whether the
right to hold a government job could be . . . was a right which
00:29:00could not be interfered with because of one's belief in the Communist
party. I'm phrasing the issue as it came out very poorly, but that
was roughly the issue. And I just have a . . . a recollection,
not [a] very precise one, but a distinct one, that the justice took
the position that one did not have a right to the government job and,
therefore, that there was a fair amount of discretion in limiting
the terms on which one held that job. I don't recall any expression
of great concern with McCarthyism at the time. You know, the great
McCarthy-Army debate was a year or two later when . . . or maybe
even three years later. It would be entirely consistent with Reed's
00:30:00character for him to testify for Alger Hiss simply because of his
personal knowledge and friendship with Alger Hiss. And at the time .
. . and in general be completely unsympathetic with the view, say,
of a Hugo Black, whom I do remember at the time being very concerned
about what he called, "the rise of McCarthyism." But I don't remember
any such generalized concern by Stanley Reed, and . . .
GILSON: I guess Stanley Reed is more of an apolitical . . .
ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. That's right.
GILSON . . . judge.
ZIMMERMAN: I think he . . . he was apolitical at least in the . .
. the more dramatic sense. I think he was clearly political in the
sense that he knew his own set of economic and social values, and knew
that he was voting that set of values. But he was not immediately
00:31:00political in the . . . in the sense of contemporarily framed and
contemporarily labeled political parties or political factions. He
really wasn't. That's right. And, similarly, at the time I recall it
. . . it wasn't only McCarthyism. That was a time when each . .
. each term the Court had the opportunity to take the case that later
became Brown versus Board of Education [Brown v. Board of Education
of Topeka]. And the question whether the Court should take those cases
was up, and I forget what the specific proposition was, what specific
certiorari petition. But I do remember that Reed was fairly adamant
in not wanting to take the case, and he expressed the thought that,
"Someday we're all going to be a light chocolate color, but not . . .
00:32:00not now." And he didn't say it in a distressed way. He said it as he
did other things; that from his vantage point he saw a tide of history,
and he saw the tide of history as breaking down the . . . the
barriers that . . . that existed. He also was absolutely confident,
I suppose, that the inevitable result of that breakdown would be
miscegenation and, as he puts it, "everyone being gradually a light . .
. light chocolate." But he wasn't about to take that case that term.
GILSON: Yeah. Interesting. I know he had . . . he had trouble with
that . . . with the . . . with the Brown case . . .
ZIMMERMAN: Yes, when it . . .
GILSON: . . . when it eventually did come . . .
ZIMMERMAN: Yes. Yes.
GILSON: . . . into . . . into argument.
ZIMMERMAN: Yes. I . . . I assume he was the . . . the most
00:33:00dubitative of the justices. But he finally went along.
GILSON: It's interesting. Of course, it was argued during the last
Vinson term, or Vinson's last term, and then it took Earl Warren to .
. . to bring it around. Of course, you never worked for Earl Warren
in the . . . in the Court.
ZIMMERMAN: He wasn't there.
ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. I have appeared before Earl Warren to argue cases when
I was in the government, but I never worked for him.
GILSON: Another . . . another aspect. Justice Jackson had . . .
a few years before that had been trying war criminals in Nuremberg.
We've kind of picked up through memoranda and whatnot that there may
00:34:00have been a little bit of controversy on the Court between that . . .
or about that. Do . . . do you recall anything?
ZIMMERMAN: I don't.
GILSON: You don't.
ZIMMERMAN: I don't. I . . .
GILSON: I'm really asking the wrong man. I really need to talk . . .
GILSON: . . . to somebody a little farther back.
ZIMMERMAN: Either farther back or . . . I'm simply looking through
some of the these papers because it may have been in some notes I had
on some conversations with Hugo Black where there might have been a
mention of Justice Jackson, but I . . . there's nothing I have on
Justice Reed. So I can't be of much help on that.
GILSON: Okay. How did the other clerks on the Court regard Stanley Reed?
ZIMMERMAN: I think I just had lunch today with a very old friend of
mine, who--Don Turner--who was a clerk that same year for Tom Clark,
and he volunteered--and I said I was going to meet with you--and he
volunteered that how friendly . . . what a pleasant recollection
he had of Stanley Reed, and how all the clerks, I think, generally
liked him. Now, you'd have to speak with the Frankfurter law clerks
as to what extent they . . . their perception was particularly
shaped by Justice Frankfurter's perception. Frankfurter, I think,
once uncharitably described Reed as "a man who crawls from detail to
00:36:00detail." But that would have been very characteristic of Frankfurter.
He did that in my presence, I believe. But that's more commentary on
Frankfurter, I guess, than anything else.
GILSON: I guess, yeah.
ZIMMERMAN: But I think most of the law clerks regarded him as one of the
most affable and . . . of the justices, and . . . but not a hail-
fellow-well-met. He was just very gentlemanly, always very courteous,
very polite and usually friendly with a smile. That was not true of
GILSON: I've well heard that. That's one . . . in fact, . . .
well, I've heard that the Douglas clerks hardly ever saw Justice
ZIMMERMAN: Very few Douglas clerks had a happy relationship. I know
of at least one that had a very happy relationship with Douglas, later
on a former student of mine when I was teaching at Stanford. Had a
00:37:00very good relationship. By and large, Douglas was not an easy man or
. . . or an affable man. Indeed, my recollection is that one would
walk down an absolutely isolated marble corridor in the Supreme Court,
Douglas would be coming the other way, and the confrontation would
be almost inevitable and yet, somehow or other, Douglas would manage
to avoid one's eye, which was a good trick. An extremely shy man or
strange man. But I think Reed was pleasantly remembered by the law
clerks, and I think he enjoyed tremendous relationships with his law
clerks, all of whom, I think, are very . . . all have fond memories
of him. Some more patronizing than others, and law clerks are always
00:38:00patronizing of judges, unless the judge happens to be Oliver Wendell
Holmes or somebody.
GILSON: True. This is a question I'm asking everybody, and I really
shouldn't ask it because nobody knows the answer. How did the annual
dinners come about for the law clerks?
ZIMMERMAN: Well, I really don't know. I . . . I was looking at .
. . I found some notes I took at the . . . this little squib at
the first annual dinner I attended, which would have been in January
1951 or thereabouts, and notes that there were nine law clerks there.
And notes that Harold Leventhal just arrived. He had just become
counsel to the Price Control Agency. But there were already . .
. the tradition was, obviously, already going strong. It was in
00:39:00Bennett Boskey's house, the house he still lives in. He had just
moved into it. A snowy, sleety night. I remember being . . . going
there with . . . either driving the justice there or picking up a
ride, I forget which. And . . . but it was already a pretty well-
established institution, since there were nine former clerks attending
on a snowy night in Washington.
ZIMMERMAN: I don't know how they started. They went on for years,
and some dinners were better than others. And it was an interesting
assemblage of people.
GILSON: Umhmm. The general consensus I get is that . . . well,
even after the clerks had . . . had quit working for him, that Reed
really genuinely cared for his clerks from then on.
ZIMMERMAN: Did you get people [to] comment on the various speeches the
00:40:00justice used to give at these dinners? He . . .
ZIMMERMAN: . . . well, . . .
GILSON: . . . just . . . well, may I turn the tape over and . . .
ZIMMERMAN: Yeah, by all means.
GILSON: . . . we can continue on this point?
[End of Tape 1, Side 1]
[Beginning of Tape 1, Side 2]
GILSON: . . . encumbered by electronic devices.
ZIMMERMAN: Well, it's . . . it's better than taking it down in
shorthand, isn't it?
GILSON: I guess so, yes.
ZIMMERMAN: Are we on?
GILSON: We're on.
ZIMMERMAN: All right. Well, I would guess that . . . I haven't
giving it s- . . . a thought, and when you make your rounds to other
law clerks, you might ask them for what recollections they have of
different speeches. In my own memory, I can almost see an arc where
those first few years after I left the clerkship and the justice was
00:41:00still an active judge, why, he would speak in very careful terms but,
nonetheless, informative terms of the major issues before the Court.
And then once he retired, he dwelled more and more on his affection
for his clerks and the high esteem in which he regarded them and how
they helped him and so forth. And he . . . he would always have
some witticism and . . . but the general impression was tremendous
benign affection emanating towards his clerks, and he thoroughly
enjoyed the fact of those dinners. And the next day we would be
invited to a reception at the Reeds' Mayflower [Hotel] apartment.
And that went on for many years. I . . . the last one was the
00:42:00one a few months ago after the memorial service where we . . . and
that's probably the end of those events. But he always professed great
reliance on his clerks, and he was being kind and generous in that
because, while he made use of his clerks, he did not rely on them in
the sense of having them do his work. He did his own work. Worked
hard, carefully, diligently.
GILSON: The clerks were just extensions of him, I guess.
ZIMMERMAN: Yes. He . . . and . . . and, of course, he would
always listen. We would go in and argue with him, and sometimes .
. . sometimes we would influence him. Usually he knew pretty much
00:43:00where he was, what he wanted to do, what he wanted to accomplish, and
would ask us to flush out different . . . certain theories or .
. . but there were occasions when we felt we made a dent, made an
influence, wrote a first draft which he pretty much adopted. It was a
good relationship. Probably one of the happier relationships between
clerk and justice on the Court. Reed law clerks all regard the years
as a good year.
GILSON: Here's another unfair question, if I may ask it. Did Stanley
Reed start out his career on the Court as a liberal, in terms of [a]
New Deal type liberal, and then go conservative, or was he . . . or
00:44:00did he stay static? Was he always . . .
ZIMMERMAN: Well, my own guess is that there wasn't very much movement
in his views. I think some of the issues changed. The . . . what
would have been a so-called "New Deal liberal" is . . . at the
time, is somebody who thought the Constitution was permissive enough
to permit the executive branch and Congress to implement some of the
New Deal type programs. In some sense, Reed was a pro-government
man. And I think he didn't change all that much. I'm not a historian
of the Court and I'm not a scholar of the Court. But my . . . my
guess is that there wasn't any great change if one goes through and
looks at his opinions. The . . . the issues tended to chain . . .
00:45:00change somewhat in that in the late `30s and early `40s, particularly
in the late `30s when Roosevelt was trying to undo the "nine old men,"
the . . . the issue . . . the issue was the one I described
of the . . . whether the Constitution really interfered with New
Deal legislative efforts. Later on, by the time I became a clerk, a
lot of the issues were whether the government was abusing its powers
vis-a-vis the . . . the individual, and you get civil rights issues
and freedom of association issues. And there was a kind of consistency
in Reed. Again, he supported the government and the powers of the
government. So, again, as a horseback in unscholarly reaction, I don't
think there was very much change. But heavens, I'm not . . . I've
never attempted to study all of his opinions, but I don't think there
00:46:00was a change. And he was a man who just doesn't seem fitting . . .
doesn't seem to fit the man. He was a man who knew who he was pretty
much. I wouldn't have expected to see any great alteration in his
opinions. I'd be surprised if a review shows that.
GILSON: True, there is the . . . as far as I know, nothing that
really starts him out liberal . . .
ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. Yeah.
GILSON: . . . and makes him go conservative.
GILSON: I guess the general trend is that he was staying the same and
the time switched . . . time has changed the . . . like, you were
just saying they emphasized different things . . .
GILSON: . . . later on. How was his health when you were on the
ZIMMERMAN: Well, it was okay. I never . . . he had . . . he was
living on a rice diet, as you know. He had had high blood pressure
00:47:00[and] had gone down to Duke University, and the doctors there put him
on a rice diet. And, indeed, he was extraordinary in his willingness to
live on that diet. Indeed, I have a gruesome recollection of being in
the early part of the day on Thanksgiving Day, 1950, and at lunchtime-
-obviously it wasn't his major meal; I think we were going home in the
mid-afternoon--but Ross came in and served him his Thanksgiving Day
lunch, which consisted pathetically of a bowl . . . of a ma- . . .
jar of rice with some cranberry sauce on the rice. And I thought that
was quite pathetic. In this letter that he wrote to me in July, `51,
I was little surprised to reread it today, he says, "You may have heard
00:48:00some comment about [Walter] Winchell's report of my illness and need
to resign." And so, apparently, he'd . . . there was some illness
in the summer of `51 which I don't . . . I didn't recall. And he
goes on to say, "No such advice has ever been given me by any doctor at
any time, and as a matter of fact, there are indications of continued
improvement in my health. I wish no announcement of any kind, of
course, but you may have an opportunity to reply to questions on your
own account and on your information. You can show this to Miss G. for
her information." So I suppose there were always rumors about his . .
. and it may have been related to his high blood pressure. Whatever
the Duke . . . doctors at Duke did for his high blood pressure, it
kept him alive [chuckle] till . . . well into his 90's.
GILSON: Oh, yes.
ZIMMERMAN: So that rice diet had something going for it. But he was
00:49:00quite rigorous, and he would break the diet on festive occasions. He,
for example, would at the annual dinners depart from it. But other
than that, I think he was quite scrupulous about his diet. He was in
good health. He would take a nap in the afternoon, a very wise habit.
Sometimes he would get tired, but with good reason. I guess when I
clerked for him, he was already in his mid 60's. He was not a young
GILSON: Yeah, he must have [been].
ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. But generally he seemed to be vigorous, in good
health, worked hard. I don't recall any complaints of illness.
GILSON: Someone was saying he was a great walker. He used to walk
ZIMMERMAN: I don't remember that. I think he was driven to work. I
don't recall his walking to work. [Inaudible] that point, Frankfurter
00:50:00and [Dean] Acheson, I think, used to have that great walk in from . .
. or around that time, from Georgetown. But I don't remember Justice
Reed walking in. But I have . . . he was always rather spare at
that point. The pictures of himself that were in the office were taken
about a dozen years before and show him as rather heavyset, and by the
time I was his clerk, he had lost a great deal of weight, had been on
this rice diet and generally seemed to be okay.
GILSON: Yeah. Were you privy at all to his social life? Would he ever
tell you, "I'm going to the Argentinean Embassy," or something?
ZIMMERMAN: I have some . . . a couple of recollections, something
about the Alfalfa Club. I also knew that he traveled in some of what
00:51:00was then Washington society. But I guess I wasn't . . . we weren't
very aware of the specifics of what . . . what he was doing, nor were
the newspapers filled with it. I . . . I knew very little about it.
GILSON: Did you ever meet his wife? I suppose you . . .
ZIMMERMAN: Well, yes. We would meet Winifred, certainly, that Sunday
after the . . . the clerks' dinner when we were received at their .
. . their home. We never got to know her. At least I never got to
know her particularly well, so I didn't see her very often. I guess
00:52:00we saw his sons occasionally, but not very often. The whole family .
. . I mean, he was a very cordial man and he seemed to have a very
stable, well firmly-founded family. He used to joke a lot about his
farm in Maysville, and . . . and we would occasionally do some work
on some legal problem or other that the farm had thrown up.
GILSON: Okay! I think we may have covered everything there is to know
about Stanley Reed. If you'd like to add anything, please do so.
ZIMMERMAN: No. I think . . . I think I'm probably at the point of
repeating myself, so I . . . I would guess that's about it.
GILSON: All right. Well, Mr. Zimmerman . . . Zimmerman, I think you
ZIMMERMAN: Okay. Thanks a lot.
[End of Interview]