Frederick Bernays Wiener

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Frederick Bernays Wiener
Born (1906-06-01)June 1, 1906
New York, New York
Died 1 October 1996(1996-10-01) (aged 90)
Phoenix, Arizona
Occupation Appellate Lawyer
Citizenship United States
Education Ph.B., LL.B.
Alma mater Brown University, Harvard Law School
Period 1940-1978
Subject Military justice, appellate practice
Spouse Doris Merchant (1949-1996)
Relatives Sigmund Freud (grand-nephew)

Frederick Bernays "Fritz" Wiener (1 June 1906 – 1 October 1996) was an American jurist specializing in military justice and constitutional law who became famous for the 1957 case of Reid v. Covert, which represents the only time a lawyer lost in the Supreme Court of the United States but prevailed on rehearing. That case was particularly notable in that it established that "no agreement with a foreign nation [i.e., no treaty] can confer power on the Congress, or on any other branch of Government, which is free from the restraints of the Constitution."[1]

He is also noted for arguing for the victorious appellants in the racial discrimination case Moose Lodge No. 107 v. Irvis, 407 U.S. 163 (1972), and the losing appellant in the reapportionment case Roman v. Sincock, 377 U.S. 695 (1964).

Education and career[edit]

Wiener graduated cum laude from Brown University in 1927, and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was note editor for the Harvard Law Review, in 1930. He was admitted to the bar of Rhode Island the next year, and the Supreme Court bar in 1934.

During World War II, he served in the Judge Advocate General's Corps, retiring from the United States Army in 1966 with the rank of Colonel.[2] Working for the Solicitor General's Office and later in private practice, he often argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.[3]

From 1951-1956, he lectured in law at George Washington University, while also lecturing before foreign and domestic groups.[4] In 1962 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He retired from active practice in 1973 while continuing occasional consultations.[2] In 1974, he was awarded the U.S. Army's Outstanding Civilian Service Medal.[4]

Wiener was called no less than seven times to testify before Congress on matters pertaining to military law.[4] On 6 August 1984, he testified[5] before the United States Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Civil Service, Post Office and General Services, chaired by Senator Ted Stevens, against the passage of Senate Bill 2116, a bill which, based on the findings of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, sought to provide an apology and financial reparations to Japanese-Americans interned during World War II. Wiener testified that the Commission's report contained numerous misstatements and omissions that led to erroneous conclusions, in part because several of the Commissioners had made up their minds before the investigation began. The bill died in committee without coming up for a vote.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Black, J. "Opinion of the Court," 354 U.S. 1 (1957), SCotUS
  2. ^ a b Statement by Frederick Bernays Wiener, p. 1, Internment Archives
  3. ^ Garner, Bryan A. "Introduction." in Wiener, Frederick Bernays. (1961) [2001] Briefing and Arguing Federal Appeals. Washington, D.C.: BNA Incorporated. Reprinted by The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. i. LCCN 2001-31682. ISBN 978-1-58477-183-8.
  4. ^ a b c Statement by Frederick Bernays Wiener, p. 2, Internment Archives
  5. ^ Committee on Governmental Affairs of the United States Senate, 98th Congress, 2nd Session, S. Hrg. 98-1304 (16 August 1984). "Testimony of Frederick B. Wiener". Recommendations of the Commission on Wartime Internment and Relocation of Citizens. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 264–299. 
  6. ^ Shimabukuro, Robert Sadamu (2001). Born in Seattle: The Campaign for Japanese American Redress. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press. pp. 103–104. ISBN 0-295-98142-3. Retrieved 27 October 2009.