Marshall's career aspirations were exceeded with his appointment to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1961, until he received an unexpected phone call from President Johnson in July of 1964.


Marshall: After very few words, he says, "I want to make you my solicitor general."

I said, "Wait a minute! I'd never thought of such a thing."

He said, "Well, you think of it."

I said, "Mr. President, I'll be glad to think about it, but there are a lot of things I have to think about."

He said, "Take your time. But don't talk to a living soul about it."

I said, "Well, I assume that doesn't include my wife."

He said, "Of course you can talk to her, but nobody else. Take as much time as you want."

I said, "Okay, sir."

Hung up. That afternoon I went home and I talked to my wife, and I explained to her the options, and then we talked to the boys, and we all agreed that, well, it was worth considering. I went back to work the next day, and that morning-it is the next day now, I guess it's about eleven o'clock, the phone rang. President Johnson.

I said, "Yes, sir, Mr. President."

He said, "Have you made up your mind?"

I said, "Well, Mr. President, you said take as much time as you want, is that right?"

He said, "Yes, and you've had that much time."

I said, "Yes, sir."

He said, "Now, you come on down here, and we'll talk it over."

I said, "All right." So I went down the next day or the day after, I've forgotten what it was, and I told him, I said, "Mr. President, number one, it's a salary loss of $4,500."

He said, "I know that."

I said, "Number two, I'm giving up a lifetime job."

He said, "I know that."

I said, "And finally, I haven't got any money."

He said, "I know that, too. You want to see your income tax report? And your bank account?"

I said, "No. I know what's in them."

So he kept talking, and I said, "Okay."

He said, "Now, one thing you've got to keep in mind: this is not a stepping-stone to anything else, do you understand that?"

I said, "Yes sir."

He said, "Anything, including the Supreme Court."

I said, "Yes sir. That's all right with me."

So he said, "Okay."

The announcement was made. The hearing was not bad, and I came down to the swearing-in, and my wife and I had arranged that I would commute on weekends and get a little efficiency apartment down here. We had it all worked out, because the boys were in school and all, and I had this good buy on an apartment up there in New York.

And as he walked in the cabinet room to swear me in, he passed by me and he said out of the comer of his mouth, he said, "What in the hell is this about your commuting?"

I said, "But-"

He said, "But nothing, move down."

I was moving them down.