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1981-03-19 Interview with Edwin M. Zimmerman, March 19, 1981 Reed001:1981OH037Reed05 00:53:17 Stanley F. Reed Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Reed, Stanley Forman, 1884-1980 Edwin M. Zimmerman; interviewee Edward Gilson; interviewer 1981OH037_Reed05_Zimmerman 1:|9(5)|24(2)|35(8)|48(11)|63(3)|74(9)|83(5)|96(11)|105(5)|119(2)|128(7)|140(5)|155(5)|165(7)|175(4)|182(7)|192(1)|207(14)|220(2)|241(4)|250(8)|266(11)|281(2)|296(3)|308(3)|321(5)|333(12)|351(7)|367(12)|377(5)|394(6)|405(7)|425(15)|446(1)|466(6)|478(4)|497(12)|507(3)|521(8)|539(2)|576(1)|586(7)|598(8)|609(1)|621(10)|633(4)|658(12)|668(13)|684(10)|702(8)|715(5)|725(12)|739(2) audiotrans SFReed reed001:interview 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 private 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, and 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 have 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 respected. GILSON: So when you first met him, how did you [chuckle--Zimmerman] . . . 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 diligent worker. 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 basic 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 summarize 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 always 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 notes 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 seduce 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 . . . GILSON: Sure. 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 like 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 have 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 think 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 of 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 Court 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 told 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, he 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. That 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 crowing 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 course, 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 . . . GILSON: Never. ZIMMERMAN: . . . reconstruct it. GILSON: Yeah. 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 and 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 ordered. 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 terms 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 S.] Truman. ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. 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, Minton, 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 relationship 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 seeing 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 . . . 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. GILSON: Yeah. 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. ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. 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 Anti-Fascist Committee versus McGrath [Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath]. Maybe that was the Kristensen? ZIMMERMAN: No. No, that's a different case, . . . GILSON: Yeah. 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 could 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 character 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 political 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 . . . not 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 dubitative of the justices. But he finally went along. GILSON: Umhmm. ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. 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. GILSON: Yeah. 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 have 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 . . . ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. 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 detail." 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 all justices. GILSON: I've well heard that. That's one . . . in fact, . . . well, I've heard that the Douglas clerks hardly ever saw Justice Douglas. 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 very 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 patronizing 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 Bennett 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. GILSON: Yeah. 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 justice used to give at these dinners? He . . . GILSON: No. ZIMMERMAN: . . . well, . . . GILSON: . . . just . . . well, may I turn the tape over and . . . ZIMMERMAN: Yeah, by all means. GILSON: . . . we can continue on this point? ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. [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 still 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 one 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 where 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 did 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 . . . change 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 was 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. ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. 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 . . . ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. GILSON: . . . later on. How was his health when you were on the Court? 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 [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 some 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 quite 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 man. 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 everywhere. 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 and [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 was 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 we 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 very much. ZIMMERMAN: Okay. Thanks a lot. [End of Interview] Edwin Zimmerman, who clerked for Justice Reed from 1950 to 1951, begins his interview by describing the duties required of Reed's law clerks. Like the other clerks, he wrote briefs and reviewed and made notes on petitions of certiorari. Zimmerman shares his opinions of Chief Justice Fred Vinson and Justice William Douglas, and tells some anecdotes about the relationship between Justice Reed and Justice Felix Frankfurter. Next, he mentions several court cases: McGrath v. Kristensen, Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath (which centered on whether or not a communist could hold a government job), the Alger Hiss case (which involved a former associate of Reed's), and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Zimmerman concludes with a discussion of Reed's rice diet, Reed's political philosophy, the annual law clerk dinners, and Mrs. Reed. Kentucky Politics