Robert J. Lipshutz dies: White House counsel under Carter was 88

By Ray Henry
Wednesday, November 10, 2010; 9:00 PM

Robert J. Lipshutz, an Atlanta lawyer who served as White House counsel to President Jimmy Carter, died Nov. 6 at an Atlanta hospice of complications from a blood clot. He was 88.

Mr. Lipshutz was introduced to the future president about the time that Carter, then a state senator, made a failed run for Georgia governor in the 1966 Democratic primary against Lester Maddox, a segregationist.

Carter lost, but Mr. Lipshutz supported Carter when he successfully ran for governor again in 1970.

As governor, Carter appointed Mr. Lipshutz as vice chairman of the board for Georgia's Department of Human Resources and to a state compensation commission.

The lawyer gained national prominence when he served as treasurer and legal counsel for Carter's presidential campaign, even giving the campaign space in his Atlanta law office.

When Carter defeated President Gerald Ford in 1976, Mr. Lipshutz accepted a job as White House counsel and served until October 1979, when he was replaced by Lloyd N. Cutler, a Democratic Party stalwart.

One of Mr. Lipshutz's most important behind-the-scenes roles was as a "Jewish voice in the White House" as Carter helped negotiate an accord between then-enemies Egypt and Israel in 1978, his son Randy Lipshutz said.

"Bob was a very dear friend and trusted counselor to me for many decades," Carter said. "His insights played a key role in many White House initiatives and decisions, including the success of the Camp David Peace Accords between Israel and Egypt."

Mr. Lipshutz was co-author of a 1978 memorandum to Carter that recommended creating a presidential commission on the Holocaust, which was tasked with finding a memorial to the millions of Jews and others killed by the Nazi regime during World War II, said Stuart Eizenstat, Carter's domestic policy adviser.

That commission eventually recommended creating what is now the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

Robert Jerome Lipshutz was born Dec. 27, 1921, in Atlanta. He received a law degree from the University of Georgia and built a firm that specialized in representing local businesses.

Survivors include his wife, Betty Beck Lipshutz, and six children. His first wife, Barbara Levin Lipshutz, died in 1970.

- Associated Press

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