Johnson had agreed to nominate Francis X. Morrissey for a Federal judgeship in Massachusetts. Morrissey was a long-time friend of Joseph Kennedy, Sr. In 1961, Joseph Kennedy had tried to convince his son, John F. Kennedy, to nominate Morrissey, but President Kennedy, who was trying to win American Bar Association approval on other nominations, refused. During the summer of 1965, Edward Kennedy renewed the campaign to convince President Johnson to nominate Morrissey. In September 1965, Johnson agreed. It was, as press reports accurately pointed out, done as a favor to the Kennedys.1 In this call, Johnson called the ailing Kennedy family patriarch to let him know the news.
Edward Kennedy was meeting with LBJ at the time of this call. Joseph Kennedy, the former ambassador to the United Kingdom was father of John (Jack), Edward (Ted), and Robert (Bob), and had suffered a major stroke in 1961, making it difficult for him to speak. With Joseph Kennedy at the time of this call was Ann Gargan, his favorite niece (and Edward's cousin).2
President Johnson: Hello, this is Lyndon Johnson.
Ann Gargan: Oh, Mr. President, just a minute.
Joseph Kennedy: Hello?
President Johnson: Mr. Ambassador, we are sitting here with [Edward] Teddy [Kennedy] and we’re getting ready to recommend your friend Judge [Francis X.] Morrissey for the Federal bench, and we wanted to tell you about it first.
President Johnson: Hello? [aside] . . . hear anything.
President Johnson: Yes, did he hear me?
Gargan: Yes, he did. Thank you. He was rather emotional about it, sir.
President Johnson: Well—
Gargan: [Unclear] him on, get him on [unclear].
President Johnson: Tell himthat we’re so glad that we had a chance to have a word with him, and Teddy is here in the office with me, and we’ll be sending the name to the Senate very shortly, as soon as the Attorney General [Nicholas deB. Katzenbach∇] can get it. It’s Francis Morrissey, and the Ambassador had been interested in him through the years, and we just wrapped it up this morning.
Gargan: Oh, well that’s wonderful. Thank you for [unclear]—
President Johnson: And you explain that to him, and here is Ted. He wants to say a word.
Edward Kennedy: Hello?
Gargan: Hello, Teddy?
Edward Kennedy: Oh, Ann, fine. Well, that’s—
Gargan: He didn’t—you know, Johnson didn’t hear him but he could [unclear]—
Edward Kennedy: Oh, fine. Yeah. Good.
Gargan: But everything is fine. You want to say hi to him?
Edward Kennedy: Oh, fine. I’ll be—yeah.
Gargan: Yeah. [aside, to Joseph Kennedy] Here's Teddy.
Edward Kennedy: Oh, Dad?
Joseph Kennedy: Uh-huh?
Edward Kennedy: Dad, well, it looks like you’re the man with all of the influence, still. So that’s really great, and I know how happy you are and . . . So they’re going to put that through. The President, very kind and we’ll—it’s going to—I know it will make Morrissey and you very happy. So, we’re just staying. I’m just down here trying to get a few lessons on how you get these things done, you know. The President said he is doing it for all of you and Jack and Bob and myself, so it’s really fine. But I think he is giving a little extra push because of your interest in it. So, that’s really fine, Dad.
Gargan: OK. We'll—are we going to see you this weekend?
Edward Kennedy: Yeah. Yeah.
Gargan: Oh, good.
Edward Kennedy: Yeah.
Gargan: Are you going—
Edward Kennedy: I’ll be over to see him in the morning. I’m—I’ll come in late tonight.
Gargan: Yeah, well your mother is coming down tonight, too.
Edward Kennedy: Oh, fine.
Edward Kennedy: Has he got lunch? Is he going out on the boat? We’ll go out on the boat tomorrow.
Gargan: No, he just came in from the boat.
Edward Kennedy: Tomorrow. Maybe we’ll go out tomorrow.
Gargan: Oh, great.
Edward Kennedy: OK, Annie.
Edward Kennedy: OK, Annie. Thanks a lot, Annie.
Edward Kennedy: Bye, bye.