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Living the New Deal: David Ginsburg (1912-2010)

John Q. Barrett

St. John's University School of Law; Robert H. Jackson Center

December 21, 2010

St. John's Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-29226

David Ginsburg, who died at age 98 on May 23, 2010, was, to my knowledge, the last living official who served at senior levels in the early Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration.

Ginsburg, after growing up in West Virginia and graduating from college, attended Harvard Law School and became a protégé of Professor Felix Frankfurter. In 1935, he helped Ginsburg get a position at the new Securities & Exchange Commission, where his work included defending the constitutionality of the Public Utility Holding Company Act and, as borrowed personnel, researching speeches for President Roosevelt. In 1938, Ginsburg worked as newly appointed Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas’s first law clerk. In 1939, Ginsburg returned to the executive branch, working on various aspects of national defense, ultimately becoming general counsel of the Office of Price Administration. In 1943, Ginsburg joined the U.S. Army as a private. He served in Europe and, after the war, remained in Germany to work in the U.S. occupation government. In later decades, he headed one of Washington, D.C.’s great law firms (Ginsburg, Feldman & Bress), was a co-founder of Americans for Democratic Action, and was appointed by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to significant positions. In 1967, LBJ, responding to riots and racial unrest, created the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, known popularly as the Kerner Commission, and appointed Ginsburg its executive director. He in large part wrote its March 1968 final report.

This eulogy, delivered at a memorial gathering in September 2010 and based in research in Ginsburg’s newly available papers in the Library of Congress, describes his paths and his work in the New Deal and World War II periods.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 8

Keywords: Ginsburg, Frankfurter, Roosevelt, FDR, New Deal, SEC, PUHCA, Douglas, Supreme Court, Law Clerk, OPA, World War II, Germany, Kennedy, Johnson, Kerner

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Date posted: December 22, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Barrett, John Q., Living the New Deal: David Ginsburg (1912-2010) (December 21, 2010). St. John's Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-29226. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1729226 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1729226

Contact Information

John Q. Barrett (Contact Author)
St. John's University School of Law ( email )
8000 Utopia Parkway
Queens, NY 11439
United States
718-990-6644 (Phone)
718-990-2199 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.stjohns.edu/academics/graduate/law/faculty/Profiles/Barrett
Robert H. Jackson Center
305 East Fourth Street
Jamestown, NY 14701
United States
716-483-6646 (Phone)
716-483-0690 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.roberthjackson.org
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