Supremely Political: The Role of Ideology and Presidential Management in Unsuccessful Supreme Court Nominations

By John Massaro | Go to book overview
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3. PRESIDENTIAL MANAGEMENT:
THE HAYNSWORTH NOMINATION

The Haynsworth appointment will be pointed to in the future as a prime example of stupid handling of a Supreme Court appointment.

—President's News Summary,
October 10, 1969

THE ORDEAL OF Clement F. Haynsworth, Jr., began when the ordeal of Associate Justice Abe Fortas ended. After Fortas resigned from the Court on May 14, 1969, President Richard M. Nixon, on August 18, 1969, nominated Haynsworth, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, to fill the vacancy.

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination were held from September 16 through September 26, 1969, with the nominee appearing on September 16, 17, and 23. Testimony at the hearings mainly focused on Haynsworth's sense of judicial propriety in participating, as a federal appeals court judge, in cases in which he had a financial interest. An additional focus was the nominee's judicial ideology as reflected in his previous decisions related to civil rights and labor-management relations. The Judiciary Committee voted 10-7 on October 9, 1969 to report the nomination favorably to the Senate. The Committee's majority report, along with the views of dissenting members, were filed with the Senate on November 12, 1969. Senate debate began on November 13, 1969, culminating in the rejection of the nomination by a 55-45 margin on November 21, 1969.

Nixon's management of the confirmation process contributed significantly to the Senate's negative action. This chapter focuses on two

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