"I saw that argument," he said. "Judge Frankfurter re-made the whole argument. You could tell the bench was not buying into the state's case, and Frankfurter - he was so artful - he asked questions that framed the whole argument in a different light, and you could see them coming around."
I pause for a moment, in awe of the days when The Bench actually "came around" and did unusual things and Changed America, instead of being utterly predictable, like figures that pop out of a clock on the hour. Of course, it all ended rather topsy-turvy with the lunacies of Roe and suchlike, and nowadays they'd derisively call it all activism and perhaps rightly so. And Frankfurter supposedly dropped dead from upset after his old protege Cox took up a position he strongly disagreed with in some civil rights redistricting case.
"I haven't gotten to that part of the book yet," I say, getting back to Kerner.
"Oh, he was a bad guy. Completely corrupt."
It is only later that I realize some miscommunication or lapse obviously occurred. The Court never granted cert in Kerner's case, and most of the intangible rights cases seem to be striking the doctrine ten years after the fact, in the 80s, the era of forgiving Marvin Mandel, one in a long line of crooked Maryland governors, whose gigantic 1970's-era portrait hung in my wedding photographer's sales room next to a few Presidents. Frankfurter was long dead by then and all those cases were going the OTHER way. I've Westlawed on "intangible rights" and "Kerner" and "Koerner" and "mail fraud" trying to find the case where Felix could have worked his magic, and I haven't found anything yet. Perhaps I'll never know what long-ago argument that was or who the bad guy was. Although I'm relieved it wasn't poor old Governor Otto. He doesn't seem like a terrible sort, just kinda dumb.