WashPost on Nixon judge appointments (Re: NYT on Bush judge appointments

Nathan Newman nathan at newman.org
Mon Oct 30 15:00:21 PST 2000

----- Original Message ----- From: "Doug Henwood" <dhenwood at panix.com> To: "lbo-talk" <lbo-talk at lists.panix.com>

>[With desperate Gore apologists making the usual impassioned Supreme
>Court arguments, it's worth dusting this off...]
>New York Times - July 9, 2000
>Bush's Choices For Court Seen As Moderates

Doug, you have this amazing capacity to act as if we have a caudillo system where the President (or Governor) has absolute unilateral power, thereby ignoring the role of the legislature. In Texas, Bush had to get nominees through a Democratically-controlled state house.

Today's Washington Post has a story about how hard Nixon worked to appoint rightwing judges, getting Rehnquist in only due to the exhaustion of the process after other full-scale battles. The point is that Bush will face opposition to his nominees, but he will seek to appoint the kind of rightwing Scalia-Thomas nominees where he can.

To continually argue otherwise is just dishonest and frankly self-deluding. If you want to argue that Bush will not be able to get anyone worse than Kennedy or O'Connor past Congress, that might be a reasonable argument, but given their voting records, that is only marginally better to make their majority permanent for the next generation than envisioning the worst possibility of expanding the Thomas-Scalia axis.

But read about Nixon's plotting (given that he is your favorite President) -- Nathan ======= Nixon on Appointing Rehnquist

By George Lardner Jr. Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, October 30, 2000; Page A25

President Richard M. Nixon was still exulting over his surprise choices for the Supreme Court when he and his top advisers gathered in the Oval Office six days later to talk about the "good press" they were getting.

"The appointments were a masterstroke," Nixon said on Oct. 27, 1971, of his two picks, Assistant Attorney General William H. Rehnquist and Richmond lawyer Lewis F. Powell Jr. The president was especially pleased about his selection of Rehnquist.

White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman marveled at the timing, coming as it did after two ill-fated nominees--Clement F. Haynsworth Jr. and G. Harrold Carswell--had been voted down by the Senate's Democratic majority. Other choices that surfaced after that drew opposition from the American Bar Association and weren't even sent to the Senate. Nixon didn't bother asking for ABA clearance this time.

"You've got the one guy, Rehnquist, who wouldn't have a snowball's chance of getting on that court if you had just walked up and nominated him" earlier, Haldeman told Nixon. By now, all sides were somewhat exhausted from the bruising battles that had already taken place.

"He [Rehnquist] is pretty far right, isn't he?" said national security adviser Henry A. Kissinger, the third man in the room.

"Oh, Christ," Haldeman exclaimed, "he's way to the right of [then Nixon White House aide Patrick] Buchanan."

The discussion was one of more than 4,100 secretly taped Nixon White House conversations that the National Archives released last week under a long-standing agreement with the Nixon estate...

Nixon was confident of winning Senate approval of both Rehnquist and Powell, but said he was under no illusion about the opposition the "two hard-right conservatives" would draw. Nixon said Rehnquist and Powell had excellent law school records, but he predicted Rehnquist would still draw 20 to 25 "no" votes. (He was confirmed Dec. 10 by a 68-26 vote.)

"The sons of bitches," he said of Senate opponents. "They made a point of excellence. Now they're going to oppose him on the grounds they don't agree with his views."

Rehnquist and Powell were eventually confirmed. Rehnquist is now the chief justice and Powell, who retired in 1987, died two years ago.

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